Landmark ruling

British woman saved from her father’s forced marriage, FGM plans by court order

A British woman identified only as “Zara” by the media recounted her experience of being pressured to undergo female genital mutilation in order to find a spouse in England, an ordeal that resulted in her becoming the first person in the United Kingdom to be given a court order simultaneously protecting her from forced marriage and FGM. Zara appeared on a BBC News program and spoke with anchor Victoria Derbyshire about her experiences. She told  Derbyshire that her father tried to arrange a forced marriage for her several times but the men and their families refused to participate unless she was “circumcised.”

“They would classify me as not respectable,” she said. “My dad told me it’s because you’re not circumcised, you’re not respectable. It got to a point where I thought circumcision was normal and I would have to go through it.” Watch a clip of the interview below.

Zara, who grew up in the West Midlands section of England, said her father’s family in South Asia was pressuring her father to arrange a marriage. An arranged proposal came up when she was 17 and she agreed to it, chatted with the man online, and was planning a wedding when he called it off because she had not undergone FGM, which is traditional in her father’s Muslim community. Zara said she eventually went to her British doctor and asked for FGM, but was told the process was illegal in the U.K. and that she should contact the police. Social workers then arranged to have a protective court order issued on her behalf.

Read the full story at the BBC.


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