A three-year-old girl needed emergency surgery after allegedly being subjected to female genital mutilation which left her severely wounded.
A London couple were appearing in court today accused of carrying out the procedure.
It is alleged the man, 42, and woman, 36, both understood to be of African heritage, mutilated the girl at their east London home.
The girl is understood to have been rushed to hospital soon after the incident. The couple are believed to have blamed the wounds on a household accident.
She underwent surgery immediately to stem the bleeding.
The pair have also been charged with failing to protect a child in their care from mutilation and of other offences involving extreme pornography.
These include charges against the man that he allegedly possessed an obscene image of sexual activity involving animals and a child abuse image. The woman faces similar charges.
The principal charge presented at Thames magistrates’ court today is the allegation of FGM. It accuses the couple of having “excised, infibulated or otherwise mutilated the whole or a part of a girl’s labia minora and clitoris” in August last year.
They are also charged with failing to protect a girl under 16 for whom they had responsibility from mutilation. The girl and a boy are understood to have been taken into care.
Today’s case is only the third time that charges of FGM have been brought to court. The two previous cases both resulted in acquittals, meaning that there has not been a single FGM conviction in the UK despite it being illegal in this country since 1985.
Official figures show that thousands of Londoners have suffered FGM. Many were subjected to the practice overseas years ago, but campaigners continue to argue that girls are being mutilated here or taken abroad to be cut.
A lack of willingness among victims, family members and friends to alert the authorities has hindered prosecution efforts in the past. In recent years schools, the NHS and social workers have been under an obligation to report suspected offences.