Doctor accused of female genital mutilation did not know procedure was illegal, court hears

Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena

Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A doctor from Clayhall accused of female genital mutilation (FGM) did not know what he had done was illegal and had to look it up on his phone, a court heard.

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

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

She went into emergency labour with her first child in November 2012 but her FGM meant the baby could not be delivered and she had to be cut open.

Immediately after the birth, junior registrar Dharmasena broke the law by stitching the young mother back up - re-doing the FGM, it is alleged.

Today midwife Aimma Ali said she became “concerned” that the woman, named only as AB in court, had been stitched back up.

She told the court that she spoke with Dharmasena privately and told him it was illegal.

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Kate Bex, prosecuting, asked: “When you told Dr Dharmasena stitching back up was illegal, how did he react?”

The midwife replied: “It seemed like he didn’t know.”

Ms Bex went on: “What did he do?”

Ms Ali said: “He started to look up FGM on his phone.”

The midwife said she was so “concerned” she delayed the woman’s transfer to a ward while she clarified exactly what had happened.

In notes from the time, Ms Ali wrote: “Transfer to ward temporarily delayed as I wanted to speak to Dan (Dharmasena) about resuturing.

“After our discussion in the room I felt it was still necessary to highlight it should not have been sutured back.”

Dharmasena later spoke with the on-call consultant Vibha Ruparelia who decided it would be “painful and humiliating” for the woman for the suture to be removed.

Dharmasena denies one count of female genital mutilation.

Linked to this a second man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, is facing one count of abetting Dharmasena in committing the offence.

Mohamed faces an alternative count of encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence. He denies both counts.