‘Female genital mutilation in NHS hospital’

Hasan Mohamed, left, and Dhanuson Dharmasena at Southwark Crown Court. Picture: Elizbeth Cook/PA
Hasan Mohamed, left, and Dhanuson Dharmasena at Southwark Crown Court. Picture: Elizbeth Cook/PA
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A BRITISH doctor performed female genital mutilation on a mother after she gave birth in hospital, a court has heard.

Dhanuson Dharmasena, 32, is accused of carrying out the illegal procedure at London’s Whittington Hospital in the first prosecution of its kind in the UK.

A second man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, denies encouraging and abetting the offence.

The woman, 24 at the time, first underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) aged six in Somalia, London’s Southwark Crown Court heard.

The mother of two, who cannot be named and was only referred to as AB in court, lives in Britain and went to hospital in 2012, in labour with her first child.

During labour, her FGM stitches were torn. Dharmasena, a junior registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology, sewed her back up in a procedure amounting to FGM, the court heard.

Kate Bex, prosecuting, told jurors: “You may be expecting to hear that the offence took place in a back-street clinic, by an unqualified and uncaring person, on a young child. This trial is quite different, but nonetheless involves FGM.”

She said the woman, now 27, had been subjected to FGM as a child in Africa.

And after the birth and “at Mr Mohamed’s insistence, or with his encouragement” Dharmasena “stitched” her back up.

She added: “It is that stitching back together by Dr Dharmasena, and Mr Mohamed’s insistence or encouragement, which is an offence.”

Dharmasena, of Essex, denies carrying out FGM. Mohamed denies one count of aiding or abetting the procedure, and one count of intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence.

The court heard a doctor spotted the woman’s childhood FGM and surgery was performed in 2011 at Kingston Hospital in London to undo the procedure.

Later, Dharmasena was in charge of delivering the baby.

The court heard the woman found it difficult to understand what they were saying and Mohamed translated.

A senior house doctor, Kate Duhig, helped with the delivery. Afterwards, while she was stitching AB, she spotted Mohamed looking at what she was doing “which she found unusual”.

Ms Bex said: “Mr Mohamed asked her to repair the FGM. Dr Duhig found the experience unpleasant and ignored Mohamed’s request.”

But she was called away and, under encouragement from Mohamed, Dharmasena performed FGM, the court heard.

A midwife, Aimma Ali, realised that what was happening “was illegal”, jurors heard, and told Dharmasena.

As a result, he told an on-call consultant, Vibha Ruparelia, that “he did not know that he was not allowed to do it until the midwife had told him”. Ms Bex said: “Dr Ruparelia took the view it would be painful and humiliating for (AB) for the suture to be removed” so it was left.

In a statement, Dharmasena said he carried out the procedure because he thought the woman wanted him to.

He said: “At no point did I intentionally want to cause any harm to the patient.”

But jurors heard he changed his justification when he was later interviewed by police.

She said it was at this interview, ten months after the operation, that he raised the possibility it was “medically justified”.

FGM carries a maximum sentence of 14 years. The case continues.