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Australia's High Court Declares Female Genital Mutilation as Illegal


Around 200 million girls and women alive today have experienced some form of genital mutilation.

And between the years 2009 and 2012 two girls in New South Wales were genitally mutilated.

The two sisters were between the ages of 6 and 7 when they were forced into having their genitals cut with scissors.

The girls' mother (whose name cannot be legally revealed) forced them into having their clitorises cut as part of a symbolic religious ceremony known as "khatna."

In 2015 former nurse Kubra Magennis, spiritual leader Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, and the girls’ mother were convicted of their involvement in these genital mutilations.

Mr Vaziri was sentenced to 15 months in prison while the two women were sentenced to 11 months home detention.

But this was Australia's first female genital mutilation prosecution and there were loopholes in the case.

Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri leaving the hearing in Sydney in 2018 after his convictions were quashed. Source: Dan Himbrechts

In 2018 the trios' convictions were overturned after the courts reviewed new evidence.

According to Global Citizen, the court found the word 'mutilate' could have been misinterpreted in the trial.

The word 'mutilate' means 'imperfection or irreparable damage,' and a recent medical examination found the two girls' clitorises were still visible and not seen as 'irreparably damaged.'

So this left many wondering - is it female genital mutilation if the clitoris still remains in tact and undamaged?

Were the two girls' genitals really mutilated?

Ms Magennis argued the ceremony was symbolic and only involved "touching the edge of the genital area allowing the skin to sniff the steel."

The High Court saw this loophole in the system and criminalised the practice in all its various forms.

Ms Magennis, Mr Vaziri and the two victims' mother will go back to the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal later this month.

The court will be determining whether the original 15-month sentencing of the trio was deemed fair.

Demi Lynch,

Announcer & Producer of 'The Nasty Woman Club Podcast'

Co-Producer & Co-Announcer of Radio 4EB program 'Fair Comment'

Former 102.1FM 4ZZZ Radio Announcer & Contributor

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