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The Somali-born woman, who had a similar procedure as a girl, denied charges and claimed whatever had happened to her daughters was "from God."
Ilham Akbar Fauzi Unsplash
Girls & Women

Queensland Jury Delivers Landmark Conviction for Female Genital Mutilation


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Female genital mutilation is a cultural tradition that refers to all procedures where the female genitals are removed or altered for non-medical reasons. The practice has serious health consequences, including severe bleeding, urine retention, complications during birth, and increased HIV risk. The elimination of FGM by 2030 is a Sustainable Development Goal. Take action here.

A Queensland woman was found guilty Wednesday over the genital mutilation of her two daughters, the first prosecution of its kind under the state’s criminal legislation forbidding the practice.  

The Brisbane District Court jury took 90 minutes to convict the mother of bringing her 9- and 12-year-old daughters to her home country of Somalia in late 2015 for the illegal procedure. The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, faces 14 years imprisonment. 

Take Action: Not One More: Help Global Citizen End Female Genital Mutilation

"Female genital mutilation (FGM) has no medical benefits whatsoever,” prosecutor Dejana Kovac told the jury, according to SBS. “In her recorded interview with the police, she said she would do anything for her children, but obviously not anything to protect them, in fact, she did quite the opposite. She dehumanized them in one of the worst ways imaginable.”

The woman was questioned once she arrived back in Australia after the girls' older step-sister relayed suspicions to police. 

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The jury was informed the procedure was performed at the girls’ grandmother’s house just days into their seven-month trip. The jury was shown various police interview tapes from the woman and her daughters and heard evidence from a pediatrician who examined both girls shortly after they returned to Australia.

Pediatrician Ryan Mills told the jury the children had abnormalities that “are consistent with FGM.”

“The skin of the clitoral hood was flat. You would have to think that it occurred by some sort of cutting,” Mills testified, as reported in the Australian.

The case comes just a week after the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released a report on FGM rates within Australia. Approximately 53,000 women and girls living in Australia in 2017 but born overseas have been subjected to the procedure; representing 0.4% of the nation's overall female population.

All Australian states and territories have passed laws banning FGM. The laws apply extraterritorially, meaning they seek to protect Australian residents from being put through the mutilation overseas. Penalties for performing the procedure vary significantly between states.

The woman will have her sentence revealed some time in the next year.