Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A mother has become the first person in Great Britain to be convicted of female genital mutilation since the practice was outlawed over three decades ago.
A British jury found the unnamed 37-year-old mother, originally from Uganda and living in Britain for a number of years, guilty Friday of committing female genital mutilation, often known as FGM, two years ago on her 3-year-old daughter, the Crown Prosecution Service, which brought the case to trial, said.
The verdict marks the first time anyone has been convicted of FGM since the United Kingdom criminalized the practice in the 1985. The practice is also banned in Uganda.
"It is significant that this is the first FGM conviction in the UK and I hope this sends out a clear message that the Met and other partner agencies will thoroughly investigate FGM cases and pursue prosecutions, whilst offering full support to victims and affected parties," inspector Allen Davis, the Metropolitan Police's lead officer for FGM, said in a statement.
The woman's trial started at the Old Bailey on Jan. 14, and she will be sentenced in the same court March 8.
The father, 43, was a co-defendant in the trial, but was found not guilty of the same offense.
The parents brought their 3-year-old daughter into a hospital in August 2017 with serious injuries that doctors later discovered were consistent with female genital mutilation, officials said. This led to their arrests.
Police said they found out during the investigation that the mother was interested in witchcraft and had spells and curses in her home including two cow tongues in her freezer bound in wire with nails and a small knife embedded in them. Police said they also found 40 limes containing small pieces of paper linked to witchcraft spells against people connected to the investigation.
The mother said her daughter injured herself by falling from a kitchen counter onto an metal-lined cupboard door. However, medical experts said the injuries could not have occurred that way.
Instead, authorities discovered the girl's genital region was mutilated with a sharp instrument about 12 hours before she was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
"Female genital mutilation has an appalling physical and emotional impact on victims that usually lasts their entire life," the Crown Prosecution Service's Lynette Woodrow said. "We can only imagine how much pain this vulnerable young girl suffered and how terrified she was."
Last November in the U.S., a federal judge in Michigan determined a federal law criminalizing female genital mutilation is unconstitutional, saying the practice is a "local criminal activity" that should be addressed by states. U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman dismissed six of eight charges against Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, who was accused of carrying out the procedure on nine girls between the ages of 8 and 13.