Australia Jails Mother Who Took Daughters to Somalia for Genital Mutilation

In this photograph taken on February 20, 2017, toddler Salsa Djafar cries as a traditional healer conducts a circumcision in Gorontalo, in Indonesia's Gorontalo province. Female circumcision -- also known as female genital mutilation or FGM -- has been practised for generations across Indonesia, which is the world's biggest Muslim-majority …
BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty

A mother in the Australian state of Queensland who took her two daughters to Somalia for genital mutilation has been warned she faces four years in prison for her crime.

The woman cannot be named to protect the identities of her children, however court records confirm she is the first person to be sentenced in the northern state for removing a child for the purposes of female genital mutilation.

She was found guilty of taking her daughters, then aged 10 and 13, to her birth country in April 2015 for the procedure, and will have her sentence suspended after eight months, SBS reports.

Female genital mutilation refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of or injury to the external female genitalia or genital organs, such as stitching of the labia majora or pricking of the clitoris. It is performed on women and girls at a range of ages, including babies.

There is no medical reason for the procedure, which can result in infections, shock, bleeding, chronic pain, reproductive issues and death.

Brisbane District Court Justice Leanne Clare described the mutilation as child abuse, and said the mother, 45, had taken them to Africa in April 2015 for the purpose of having it done.

 “In this case, a woman of unknown ability used a sharp implement to excise the clitoral hood of each girl,” Justice Clare said during sentencing on Thursday.

“The girls were not sedated, there was bleeding and a period of significant pain for perhaps a number of days, there was obvious risk of infection, even death.”

The trial heard the girls had no idea the procedure was planned until they were called inside while playing at their grandmother’s house.

A woman they didn’t recognise carried out the operation on the older girl first, followed by her younger sister.

Their stepsister tipped off child safety services when they returned to their home south of the state capital Brisbane several months later.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, released in February, said the United Nations estimated at least 200 million girls and women had undergone the procedure, with 53,000 of them thought to live in Australia.

This equates to a rate of 4.3 per 1,000 women and girls in Australia, or 0.4% of Australia’s overall female population.

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