THREE teenage girls thought to be at risk of female genital mutilation after their names appeared in an internet article about a foreign ‘initiation’ ceremony can now travel the world if they want to, a judge has said.

The youngsters and their mother moved to Britain from abroad and social workers became concerned in 2017 after their names featured in an online list of females due to have an initiation ceremony in their homeland.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the practice, traditional in some cultures, of partially or totally removing the external genitalia of girls and young women for non-medical reasons. It is illegal in the UK and it is a crime for residents to take a child abroad for FGM.

At the time, family court judge made FGM protection orders, ruled that a council should share parental responsibility and said social workers should monitor their care.

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But now Judge Joanna Vincent has concluded that council staff can withdraw and the girls can be left in their mother’s care.

However she said the girls remain at risk if they return to their homeland and said FGM orders need to stay in place.

The judge analysed the teenagers’ case at a private hearing at a family court in Oxford and said they cannot be identified in media reporters.

She has outlined the latest developments in a ruling put online.

In it she said: “I am satisfied that the care orders should be discharged.

“There are no concerns at all about the mother’s ability to parent her children.”

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She said that both parents did not want them to undergo FGM and that they were not at risk in England but she would be 'unable to protect the girls' in their home country.

She said: “I agree that all three girls should continue to have the protection of the FGM protection order. However there has to be a balance between making the protective orders and allowing the girls the freedom to travel the world as they wish to do as young adults.”

She said that if they returned to the country then the teenagers would bring ‘shame and disrepute’ to their community for refusing to undergo the procedure, adding that the risks were ‘so overwhelming’ they ‘could not possibly’ return to their country.

In October last year the Oxfordshire County Council applied to discharge the care orders and to vary the FGM protection order so that the girls can travel.

Judge Vincent praised the mother in the documents, saying she had made a ‘sacrifice’ for her children putting them before her home and career and separating herself from her family and friends.