- Driver was making small talk with Sami Ullah when conversation turned to FGM
- 29-year-old told campaigner that his seven-year-old daughter had a ‘small cut’
- Mr Ullah used feedback tool to identify driver before reporting him to police
- Father from Bristol has been charged with child cruelty offences over the injuries
An Uber driver was arrested for allowing female genital mutilation to be carried out on his daughter after he told an anti-FGM campaigner in his taxi, a court heard.
The 29-year-old was making small talk with charity worker Sami Ullah when the conversation turned to FGM and he revealed his seven-year-old daughter had a ‘small cut.’
After the 10-minute journey, Mr Ullah, a junior trustee for the charity Integrate, used the app’s feedback service to identify the Somalian driver before reporting him to police.
Officers questioned him and his three young daughters were examined. The oldest, aged seven, was found to have a ‘small lesion,’ classed as type 4 FGM.
He has been charged with child cruelty offences over the injuries, allegedly inflicted between June 27, 2009, and May 26, 2016. He denies the charges.
The court heard the father picked up Mr Ullah from Temple Meads station in Bristol on March 9, 2016, and agreed to take him to the charity’s offices 10 minutes away.
He started a conversation with his passenger and asked what he had been doing with his day.
Mr Ullah was a junior trustee for charity Integrate and asked the driver if he knew what FGM was. When he still did not understand, Mr Ullah used the Somali word.
The driver responded by making a symbol with his hand as he held onto the steering wheel, and said: ‘You mean cutting?’, the court was told.
Giving evidence, Mr Ullah said: ‘He then said that it was very wrong and I agreed with him. Then he said ‘I did the small one to my daughter. Other people did the big one but I did the small one.’
When Mr Ullah asked the driver if he knew it was illegal, he said it was ‘custom and tradition’, adding: ‘Some people did it and some people don’t.’
Mr Ullah told the court: ‘He asked me ‘do you know why we do it?’ and said ‘it’s so women don’t feel sexy all the time.’
After the driver’s daughters were examined, a community paediatric worker sent photos to a specialist in London, who examined the little girl months later and found the mark had healed – which the prosecutor said showed she had not been born with the damage.
Prosecutor Anna Vigars QC said: ‘Nobody is suggesting he is not a good father. His children are a credit to him and his wife.
‘Doctors found them to be well-nourished, tidy, sparkling little children.’ She added that the defendant had ‘exposed his daughter to a painful procedure.’
The child was said to have been subjected to Type 4 FGM, defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘all other harmful procedures’ involving pricking with a hot needle, or quartering, rather than the most severe forms, but which still leaves a mark.
Defending, James Haskell, suggested that it was common for ‘different ethnic minorities to use words such as daughter, sister, auntie or mother’ when they are not referring to their own relatives.
But Mr Ullah said the driver had repeated the comment about the ‘small cut’ on his daughter before saying ‘it is to stop women feeling sexy all the time’. He described it as an attitude he had encountered on many occasions in his work.
The family lived in an inner city area of Bristol, and are originally from Somalia.
The driver has been charged with cruelty to a child under the age of 16 years, and having responsibility for a child under that age wilfully assaulting / ill-treating / abandoning a child or young person to cause unnecessary suffering or injury.