This November, for the first time in the history of the Dawoodi Bohra community, three of its members in Australia were held guilty for carrying out Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on two minor girls. FGM has been a criminal offence in Australia since 1997, with a maximum punishment of seven years in prison.Australia were held guilty for carrying out Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on two minor girls. FGM has been a criminal offence in Australia since 1997, with a maximum punishment of seven years in prison.
In this much-publicised case, the Supreme Court of New South Wales found Sheikh Shabbir Vaziri, a retired nurse, and the mother of the two girls guilty of performing “khatna” on the sisters in Sydney, somewhere between 2010 and 2012, when the girls were 6 and 7 years old. The police found out about the genital cutting through an anonymoustip-off, and finally arrested the mother, nurse and Sheikh in 2012. The three accused had been out on bail throughout the trial.
During the trial, the defence lawyers representing the accused argued that what Bohras practice as “khatna” involves a ritualisticcutting of a thin layer of skin from the clitoris, and does constitute “mutilation”. The Supreme Court’s guilty verdict, pronounced on November 12, 2015, came as an affirmation that even Bohra “khatna” is a form of Female Genital Mutilation, no matter how small the cut.
The quantum of punishment in the Australia case will be decided in February. You can read more about this case here.