Doctor accused branded mutilation ‘abhorrent’

Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena leaves Southwark Crown Court. Picture: PA

Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena leaves Southwark Crown Court. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

A doctor from Clayhall accused of carrying out female genital mutilation on a mother said he thinks it is an “abhorrent practice” and is “deeply embarrassed”, a court heard.

Dhanuson Dharmasena, 32, of Rushden Gardens, is standing trial accused of carrying out the procedure at the Whittington Hospital in north London, in the first prosecution of its kind in the UK.

It is alleged he stitched the young mother back up after she gave birth in November 2012 - effectively re-doing the FGM carried out on her as a six year-old in Somalia.

But he believed the stitch was medically necessary, and said he was acting in his patient’s “best interests”, London’s Southwark Crown Court heard.

In his police interview in August 2013, Dharmasena said: “I regard FGM as an abhorrent practice that has no clinical justification whatsoever and is well known to carry a number of risks, some of which are serious.

“Prior to my involvement with patient AB on the 24 November 2012 I had never dealt with a patient that required deinfibulation (reversing the FGM) prior to or during delivery.”

Asked how he looked back at the procedure, he said: “I feel deeply embarrassed and I feel, I wish, I had repaired it in a way it is supposed to be repaired.”

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Jurors had earlier heard Dharmasena was an “ extremely trustworthy” doctor with an “immaculate” clinical record.

The alleged victim, known only as AB, should have been sent down the FGM pathway before labour, but was not, jurors heard.

Charles Foster, one of the barristers representing the doctor, said this left Dharmasena “facing the clinically nightmarish scenario” of discovering his patient had FGM while she was in emergency labour.

He cut her open to allow the baby to be delivered and then afterwards put in a figure of eight stitch closing part of the vagina together, jurors heard.

Dharmasena said AB had “pointed” and asked for the stitches to be put back in, and he thought he was acting in her best interests.

But afterwards he spoke to Vibha Ruparelia, the consultant on duty in the labour ward, because “I just wasn’t 100% sure afterwards if this was the right thing” as it was the first FGM case he had dealt with.

He said Dr Ruparelia “did not imply that the suturing I had done was illegal - but it was against trust policy”.

The junior registrar denied a second man pressurised him to carry out the procedure, telling police: “No, he didn’t put any pressure on me.”

The trial continues.