A retired nurse, a mother of two girls and a Dawoodi Bohra community leader have each been sentenced to a maximum 15 months in prison after Australia’s first criminal prosecution for female genital mutilation.
A former midwife, Kubra Magennis, and a woman who cannot be named were found guilty in November of carrying out FGM on two girls, the woman’s daughters, between 2009 and 2012.
The older sister underwent a ceremony known as “khatna” in a community member’s home in the New South Wales south coast town of Wollongong. Her younger sister’s FGM was carried out in the family’s western Sydney home.
Both girls were aged seven at the time of the FGM, which was classed as either type one or type four, involving the cutting or partial removal of their clitorises without leaving a scar.
The older girl said in court she had been told to lie on a bed naked from the waist down and imagine she was a “princess in a garden” while FGM was carried out on her by Magennis, who had been asked by the girl’s mother to perform the khatna.
The girl’s grandmother was also in the room and prayers from the Qur’an were read while the ceremony took place.
The crown prosecutor, Nanette Williams, told the sentencing hearing in the state’s supreme court that neither woman had shown any remorse for the act and given only “qualified, ambiguous and self-serving” apologies, the ABC reported.
They were sentenced to 15-month prison terms on Friday and will be assessed for home detention.
Also jailed for 15 months was Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, a spiritual leader in the Dawoodi Bohra community, found guilty of helping the women cover up the mutilation inflicted on the two young girls.
Dawoodi Bohra is a sect of Shia Islam found across Africa and south Asia.
The defence had argued that Magennis had only touched the girls’ genitals with “forceps” in a symbolic gesture.
Police used phone taps and other surveillance to record the mother and another community member concocting the story that the girls had only been given a “checkup” in Australia, and that if FGM had occurred it was while the girls were in Africa.
The maximum sentence for carrying out FGM was tripled in NSW two years ago to 21 years in prison.
Evil customs, no matter performed wherever in the world should be condemned and punished no matter whether in Australia or India. We see the punishment meted out in Australia, but do we punish the criminals in India.
We have the following evil customs in India:
1. Dowry deaths, 2) Honour killings for inter caste or same gothra marriage, 3) abortion of female foetus, 4) FMG, 5) not allowing dalit people to draw water from wells of entering temples, 6) superstitions spread on the occasion of eclipses and other celestial events.
How many more evil customs should I mention?