Queensland Mother Guilty Over Daughters’ Genital Mutilation

A Queensland mother has been found guilty of taking her two daughters, aged 9 and 12, back home to Somalia for a female genital mutilation procedure in 2015. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a horrific cultural tradition and a massive gender-security issue of the 21st century. This case was the first of its kind within the state, however there are high chances that FGM is occurring to Australian’s annually.

The defendant and her daughters are not able to be identified under legal circumstances. The woman pleaded “not guilty” in Queensland District Court for the two charges on Monday 11th February, however her guilt is implicit and her daughters’ genitalia were indeed mutilated. The woman’s legal defence asked the judge to defer the sentence as she has cancer that is spreading through her body to her armpit. Her case has therefore been adjourned, however if charged she faces up to 14 years in jail for her crime.

The prosecutor, Dejana Kovac, stated to the jury that “female genital mutilation has no medical benefits whatsoever… She took her two children to her home country of Somalia in Africa where she herself was subjected to the same brutality.” Ms Kovac also stated that “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, and dehumanised them in one of the worst ways imaginable.” The prosecution relied on evidence from a paediatrician, Dr John Mills, who medically examined both the children after their return from Somalia in November 2015. The doctor stated that he found there was evidence of a removed clitoral hood, which therefore meant that the children’s genitals were mutilated. Police interview tapes of the children and their mother were shown to the court over two days of displayed evidence.

The two Australian-born children were taken to Somalia in 2015 on their first visit, which was explained to them as a holiday with their mother and two other siblings. A few days after their arrival, the two children were forced into a horrific procedure which took place at their grandmother’s house. When the family returned in late 2015, the eldest child told the police that their mother was present during the procedure and that both herself and her sister were not sedated or given pain medication. The trauma inflicted on these two young girls, paired with the deception from their family, is nothing more than horrific.

People in certain areas of the world are still forcing their children into FGM based on outdated ideas of tradition and culture. Mothers have experienced the same torture that they force onto their children, and due to social conditioning they both allow and endorse it. The general understanding is that children who have undergone FGM are “cleaner” and considered pure for marriage. Many of these young girls become child brides, often married off to much older men and because their parents cannot take care of them financially.

Gender security issues remind us all that there are very brutal and abusive traditions in the world that truly play no role in medical or health benefits. The major issue with FGM is that for the majority of cases the procedure is not performed by a surgeon, most commonly being inflicted by an elderly woman with a razor blade. These conditions are typically not sterile and there is no sedation of the victim. Therefore, this issue causes massive trauma to the children who do not understand, nor can consent to, what they’re undergoing. This highly sensitive issue is extremely difficult to discuss; however these conversations must take place because there are thousands of women suffering in silence.

Aisha Parker