Note: The following is archived material, and will not be updated. It may not account for changes in the law that have taken place since publication.
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Victims of sexual offences have been afforded lifelong anonymity, which is where you can’t name the victim or give out information that someone could piece together to work out the victim is.
The anonymity law for victims of sexual crimes came into being in 1976 and has been used to help protect victims and ensure privacy around the horrific crimes.
That principle is now being enshrined in the new Serious Crime Act for FGM (female genital mutilation).
If you’re unsure what FGM is, the definition from the NHS Choices website:
Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision) refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is illegal in the UK.
Section 71 of the new Serious Crime Act 2015, amends the original Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 with an order of anonymity.
It covers victims of FGM as soon as an allegation is made. It also covers the victims of the lesser offences of aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring the original offence of FGM – in addition to the new offence of failing to protect a girl from the risk of FGM.
It is a strict liability offence, which means that the prosecution doesn’t have to show you intended to identify the victim, just that you did.
If you’re writing a story about FGM, seek expert legal advice – as the legislation is likely to be continually updated.