The powers of the courts to protect girls at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are set to be strengthened after legislation sponsored by Richmond Park and North Kingston MP Zac Goldsmith cleared its final stage in Parliament.
The Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill was initially proposed by crossbench peer Lord Berkeley who enlisted Zac's support to pilot the bill through the House of Commons. On Monday, in a final debate on the bill, MPs approved the legislation and it has been sent to the Queen for Royal Assent before becoming law.
The bill will allow judges in family courts to compel the involvement of local authorities when the make care orders to protect girls at risk of FGM or who have suffered FGM already. As it stands, the law affords more protections to girls at risk of domestic violence or forced marriage than FGM - and this bill will correct that.
In his speech on the Third Reading of the bill, Zac praised FGM campaigners such as Nimco Ali who have led the way in convincing the Government and Parliament to take more action. Whilst acknowledging that there remains much more to do to protect girls at risk from FGM at home and abroad, Zac said: “If this Bill protects just a handful of girls from undergoing the horror of FGM, we will have done something worthwhile and important in passing it into law.”
The bill won cross-party support and was backed by the Government and the Opposition.
A transcript of Zac's speech can be found here