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.
"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.
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.
Great that these new prevalence estimates of women and girls who have undergone FGM in Australia are so well considered, with good acknowledgement of the limitations of estimates. We can #EndFGM without stigmatising migrant women! Congratulations @aihw on your fabulous resource. https://t.co/Xc2UW4WB5O— NETFA (@EndFGM_NETFA) February 6, 2019
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.