March 21, 2019
A woman, who cannot be named to protect the identities of her children, was found guilty of taking her daughters, then aged 10 and 13, to Somalia for genital mutilation. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP
BY Sonia Kohlbacher, AAP
A Queensland mum who took her two daughters to Somalia for genital mutilation has been sentenced to four years in prison.
The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identities of her children, was found guilty of taking her daughters, then aged 10 and 13, to her birth country in April 2015 for the procedure.
She is the first person to be sentenced in Queensland for removing a child from the state for female genital mutilation.
The girls were playing outside their grandmother’s home days after arriving in Somalia when they were separately called inside.
A woman they didn’t recognise carried out the procedure on the older girl first, followed by her younger sister.
“In this case, a woman of unknown ability used a sharp implement to excise the clitoral hood of each girl,” Brisbane District Court Justice Leanne Clare said during sentencing.
“The girls were not sedated, there was bleeding and a period of significant pain for perhaps a number of days, there was obvious risk of infection, even death.”
Their stepsister tipped off child safety services when they returned to Australia several months later.
The court heard the mother told a child safety officer in 2008 that she did not intend to subject her daughters to genital mutilation.
“(She said) that she knew the procedure was illegal in Australia, and that it is illegal to send children overseas to have it done, and in fact she said she wasn’t going to send her girls to Africa to have the procedure done,” crown prosecutor Dejana Kovac said.
“The fact that she committed the offences against the background of herself being subjected to the procedures, gives rise to the consideration as to the role of personal deterrence in the sentence.”
The woman’s children were in court, and defence barrister Patrick Wilson said they stood by their mother, who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer that has spread to her spine.
He said his client was often in pain, that she found it difficult to walk and breathe, and suffered significant swelling in her arms.
The woman’s sentence will be suspended after eight months.