Doctor in UK’s first ever female genital mutilation case appears in court

Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena

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

A doctor from Clayhall performed female genital mutilation (FGM) on a young mother after she gave birth in hospital, a court has 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.

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

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

The highly dangerous procedure left her at risk of infection, haemorrhage and even death.

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 November 2012 in labour with her first child.

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

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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 the prosecution says is an offence under the Act.

“What Dr Dharmasena did, by stitching back together the labia, was against the policy of his employer, the Whittington Hospital.”

Jurors heard the woman would have been most exposed to the dangerous side-effects when the surgery was first performed when she was six. Dharmasena’s stitches would not have carried the same risks, but should not have been sewn at all “unless medically necessary”.

Dharmasena denies carrying out FGM on November 24 2012.

Mohamed denies one count of aiding or abetting the procedure, and one count of intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence.

Dharmasena was in charge of delivering the baby on the morning of November 24.

He said the woman “was initially very reluctant” to allow him to perform incisions necessary for the birth, but was persuaded.

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

The 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 and although she naturally cannot remember exactly how he phrased it, Dr Duhig was left in no doubt that he wanted her to re-stitch (the woman).

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

The trial continues.