March 18, 2015
Pair given jail time over genital mutilation of young sistersby Jayne Margetts and staff
A mother and former midwife convicted over the genital mutilation of young girls have been sentenced to a maximum 15 months' imprisonment in a case believed to be the nation's first successful prosecution over female genital mutilation.
Former midwife Kubra Magennis, 72, and the mother of the victims, who cannot be named, 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.
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.
"I am satisfied KM affected injury to the clitoris of each child instructed by A2" and "used a metal instrument for the purpose of cutting," Justice Johnson said.
The court heard the girl's mother had been subjected to the same procedure as a child in Kenya.
The judge said A2 was a qualified pharmacist and an, "intelligent and well-educated woman".
One of the girls, known only as C1, told police "it hurt" when the procedure was carried out.
Justice Johnson said she was "told by her mother not to discuss it with anyone ... this is a big secret. Never tell anyone".
The judge found no significant physical injury had been inflicted on either child but there were "likely to be some adverse psychological effects".
During a sentencing hearing in the New South Wales Supreme Court, crown prosecutor Nanette Williams said the girls were "effectively voiceless" in the face of their mother and Magennis.
She said none of the offenders had shown any remorse and they had only given "qualified, ambiguous and self-serving" apologies.
All three offenders will be assessed for their suitability for home detention.