LONDON – A former British Conservative legislator has blocked a bill that would further protect girls exposed to genital mutilation, prompting criticism from across the political spectrum, with some calling it "revolting."
And it was not the first time.
The bill would allow children to be placed temporarily in a health care institution if they were found to be susceptible to circumcision, as is the case for other forms of abuse.
But as the bill had not been introduced by the government, a simple objection during a small sitting was enough to Christopher Chope to block it on Friday for procedural reasons with one word – "Subject "- for the second time since November.
The last gesture of Mr. Chope comes a week after a woman in London has become the first in the country to be convicted by a jury on the genital mutilation of his daughter, at a time of heightened awareness of the issue, eliciting the reaction of activists and older colleagues.
David Lamy, a Labor legislator, wrote on Twitter, wrote on Twitter: "Christopher Chope embodies a kind of thoughtless and regressive conservatism that can ruin lives."
Nimco Ali, survivor of genital mutilation and women's rights activist, published a exchange of text messages in which she asked Mr. Chope to give the bill a chance. He said no, calling for a full debate.
"The truth is that he just plays games and gives no information about vulnerable girls," she wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Chope could not be reached for a comment on Saturday.
Zac Goldsmith, a Conservative colleague who was one of the proponents of the bill, called Mr. Chope's objection "terrible. "
In responseIn an interview with The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Mr. Chope accused his colleagues of "pointing out virtues rather than looking at substance". "My constituents know what I am doing," he said, adding that he "would not be put off" by an intimidation campaign.
The draft law against female genital mutilation, presented and debated in the upper house of the British Parliament, had already passed all the stages. But it must be passed by the House of Commons before it can become law.
On Friday, Mr Chope's critics said his opposition was not purely procedural. he previously objected measures taken to avoid taking pictures of women from the suburbs and forgiveness of Alan Turing, mathematician, pioneer of computer science and code breaker, convicted in 1952 for having sex with a man. (The versions of both bills were passed later.)
He has also consistently voted against same-sex marriage in Britain, while most of his colleagues have generally voted, according to TheyWorkForYou, a website that tracks MPs' votes and speeches.
Mr Chope, who was first elected to the British Parliament in 1983, is known for his opposition to the rapid adoption of laws without the support of the government, called Private Members' Bills.
In one of the singularities of the British parliamentary system, bills can be proposed by any member of both Houses. But these texts have less time to debate and relatively few become laws. They have traditionally been used to highlight issues, to stimulate wider debate and, in some cases, to take the lead in controversial issues.
Britain legalized abortion in the late 1960s under a private member's bill introduced by David Steel, a legislator who later became the head of the small liberal party. The Labor government of the day only gave its support later and helped the bill pass through Parliament.
"I always get a mix of fan letters and hate as if I were the sole person responsible for the bill, whereas in fact I simply had the chance to benefit from a quirk of British politics, "wrote Steel. in The Independent in 2017, to mark the 50th anniversary of the bill.
A random draw gives priority to some private members' bills and comes in third place.
Genital cuts – the practice of cutting or removing a girl's genitals for social or cultural reasons but not for medical reasons – have been a crime in Britain since 1985. They are usually performed before puberty, are extremely painful and can have lasting effects on women. sexual activity, childbirth and mental health.
But as more women have immigrated to Britain from countries where this practice is widespread, a study by the City University of London estimated the number of women affected by 130,000 in a country of 66 million.
During a one-year period ending March 2018, the UK National Health Service registered 6,195 women and girls with genital mutilation, according to the data published last year.
On Friday, the British Secretary of the House, Sajid Javid, says on Twitter He said he was very disappointed by Mr. Chope's gesture, adding that he was "determined to eliminate this despicable and medieval practice".