Australia sentences three over female genital mutilation

Canberra, March 18 (IANS) An Australian court on Friday sentenced three people to a maximum 15 months in prison in the country’s first criminal prosecution for female genital mutilation.

Former midwife Kubra Magennis, 72, and the mother of the victims, whose name was not revealed, were convicted in November of mutilating two sisters in separate procedures during religious ceremonies at homes in Wollongong and Sydney’s north-west between 2009 and 2012, ABC reported.

The girls were about seven at the time.

A third offender, senior community leader Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, was found guilty of acting as an accessory after the fact by directing community members to lie to police about the practice.

He was also sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment.

The procedure, known as “khatna”, involves nicking or cutting a girl’s clitoris in the presence of several female elders and is considered a rite of passage by some members of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community.

Supreme Court Judge Justice Peter Johnson said these kinds of cases were “difficult to prosecute” because of their “unusual and novel circumstances”.

He said the mother of the two girls requested that the former nurse and midwife carry out the procedure.

All three offenders will be assessed for their suitability for home detention.

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