Published On: Mon, Jan 26th, 2015

Doctor accused of FGM did not know what he did was illegal, court hears

Doctor accused of FGM did not know what he did was illegal, court hears

A doctor accused of carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) did not know what he did was illegal and had to look it up on his phone when he was told, a court has heard.

Dhanuson Dharmasena, 32, is 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, Southwark crown court heard. When she went into emergency labour with her first child in November 2012, 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 – redoing the FGM, it is alleged.

On Thursday, 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.

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.”

Bex went on: “What did he do?”

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, 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 if the suture were removed.

Dharmasena denies one count of FGM.

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.

The trial continues.

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