Omani Students Arrested In UK Over Genital Mutilation Request For Babies

From Gulf News:
Two Omani students were recently arrested in the United Kingdom after allegedly asking a hospital to carry out female genital mutilation on their babies.

An official at the Omani embassy in London told Gulf News that the embassy has hired a defence lawyers for the students.

The official added the students, who were arrested two weeks ago, did not know that female genital mutilation (FGM) is illegal in the UK.

The official said it was the first time the students had been arrested for such an offence in the UK.

“We are coordinating with the British authorities to release the students as soon as possible and close the case”, said the official.

The students, who are studying for their master’s degree at UK universities, were arrested and questioned by police in London after approaching a hospital to circumcise their daughters.

The Omani cultural attaché in London called on the Ministry of Higher Education officials to inform Omani students who study in the UK, or those who want to study there, of the need to be alert that FGM is a criminal offence in the UK.

The attaché also asked the ministry to inform students to be cautious when they fill out forms in UK hospitals, especially if they hope to request an FGM procedure.

The attaché said that such things are not tolerated by the British authorities adding that parents can be jailed and children can be taken into care in such cases. FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and the maximum sentence for carrying out FGM or taking part in the crime is 14 years in jail.

In a separate case last February, four Omani girls studying in Holland were arrested, handcuffed and deported by UK immigration authorities, according to local media reports.

The reason was that the four students missed their flight from Holland to the UK and arrived on a different flight, violating their visa procedures.

The arrest provoked controversy in Oman, leading the British ambassador in Muscat to apologise to Omanis and explain the UK’s policies.

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