Doctor to be tried in UK's first female genital mutilation court case

Doctor Dhanuson Dharmasena (Center) leaves following a hearing where he faced charges under the Female Genital Mutilation Act at Westminster Magistrates Court in London on April 15, 2014.  A doctor will be one of two men to be tried in the
Doctor Dhanuson Dharmasena (Center) leaves following a hearing where he faced charges under the Female Genital Mutilation Act at Westminster Magistrates Court in London on April 15, 2014.  A doctor will be one of two men to be tried in the UK's first prosecution for female genital mutilation. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - A doctor will be one of two men to be tried in the UK's first prosecution for female genital mutilation.

Dhanuson Dharmasena, a registrar at the Whittington hospital, north London, appeared at Westminster Magistrates'Court on Tuesday charged with one count of an offence contrary to the Genital Mutilation Act 2003.

He will be tried alongside Hasan Mohamed, who faces charges of encouraging an offence of female genital mutilation, when the case is heard at Southwark Crown Court in May.

Mohamed also faces a charge of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring Dharmasena to commit an offence of female genital mutilation.

Both men indicated they would enter not guilty pleas.

Committing the case for a preliminary hearing at Southwark Crown Court on May 2, Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said there was no legal precedent for a case of this kind.

"This is the first offence of this type to go through the courts," she said.

Female genital mutilation has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985 but new legislation in 2003 introduced a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

The 2003 act also made it an offence for UK citizens to carry out or procure female genital mutilation abroad, even in countries where the practice is legal.

Dharmasena, 31, from Essex and Mohamed, 40, of north London, were both granted unconditional bail.