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The Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Berkeley of Knighton (Crossbench). At present, Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPOs) offer a legal means to protect and safeguard victims and potential victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (as amended). FGMPOs are explained in more detail in the second part of this Briefing. The purpose of Lord Berkeley’s Bill is to enable the courts to make interim care orders under the Children Act 1989 in child cases relating to FGM, in addition to FGMPOs. If a court was satisfied that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, an interim care order could be made. The interim care order would mean that a local authority would have shared parental responsibility for the child concerned until a final hearing. 

At present, provisions under the Children Act 1989 only enable interim care orders to be made in certain ‘family proceedings’ as defined by the Act. These ‘family proceedings’ do not currently include proceedings under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003—which Lord Berkeley’s Bill seeks to change.

The Bill would insert section 5A of, and schedule 2 to, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 into section 8 of the Children Act 1989. By doing so, the Bill would amend the Children Act 1989 to state that proceedings under section 5A and schedule 2 of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 are ‘family proceedings’. The Bill, if enacted, would thereby enable a judge to make an interim care order as well as an FGMPO in cases relating to FGM, with respect to children.

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