jail 180x120A British doctor could become the first to be prosecuted for performing female genital mutilation (FGM) as he stands accussed of performing the illegal procedure on a young mother after she gave birth in hospital.

Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena has denied the charge of carrying out FGM at the Whittington Hospital in north London while a second man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, denies encouraging and abetting the offence.

Female genital mutilation involves procedures that include the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for cultural or other non-medical reasons.

It is practised in 29 countries in Africa and some countries in Asia and the Middle East, but is illegal in the UK. Carrying out female genital mutilation carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

The mother-of-two, who cannot be identified, first underwent FGM aged six in Somalia, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.She was 24 and living in Britain when she give birth to her first child in November 2012.

Watch Health Minister Jane Ellison discuss FGM at a recent Pavilion event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz3f4j5UvrI

The court heard that during labour, her FGM stitches were torn and Dr Dharmasena, a junior registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology, sewed her back up in a procedure that amounted to FGM. The prosecution alleges the doctor did so at Mr Mohamed's "insistence or encouragement".

Kate Bex, prosecuting, told jurors that FGM was "very dangerous for a woman's health and psychological well-being. "It can lead to severe health problems and, in some cases, to death. FGM causes gynaecological, urological and obstetric problems in women, chronic pain and sexual dysfunction. It increases the risk of death in childbirth to both mother and baby," she added. 

Jurors heard the woman would have been most exposed to these side-effects when the surgery was first performed when she was six. The hospital trust launched an investigation into the incident within a few weeks leading to this trial.