Jail time urged in Australian genital-mutilation case

From 9News (Australia)

Three followers of a Shia Muslim sect convicted in Sydney of female genital mutilation offenses should receive jail time rather than home detention in order to deter others, a court has heard.

In March the followers - a mother who can't be named, midwife Kubra Magennis and Dawoodi Bohra sect community leader Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri - were each handed a minimum 11-month custodial sentence.

The mother's two daughters had their genitals cut or nicked in separate procedures in 2009 and 2012, when both were aged under 10.

However, the trio was referred for assessment for home detention and on Friday returned to the NSW Supreme Court, where their barrister Robert Sutherland SC advocated for house arrest.

But crown prosecutor Nanette Williams argued the need for general deterrence, saying home detention allowed for a "perception of leniency".

She also said it was not an available punishment for the offenses under the law.

"It was always the crown case that what was performed on the two children was an act that involved a cut or a nick ... clearly, that would be an assault occasioning bodily harm," she told the court.

Justice Peter Johnson is expected to decide the issue next week.

The mother, who can't be named for legal reasons, and Magennis were found guilty of mutilating the clitoris of each girl while Vaziri was convicted of acting as an accessory after the fact.

Their sentence hearing in March heard charges were laid after the girls told a female police officer and a social worker they had been subjected to "khatna" performed by Magennis.

The tool used was described by the elder girl as something that "looked a bit like a scissor".

Vaziri helped the mother and midwife concoct a story for police and encouraged other Dawoodi Bohra followers in the community to lie or withhold information to protect the women.

The trio is the first to be convicted of genital mutilation offenses in Australia.


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