Pharmacist sentenced for daughters’ genital mutilation

A pharmacist has been sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment for her part in the genital mutilation of her two daughters.

The woman, whose name was withheld by the court to protect the two girls, was herself subjected to “khatna” as a seven-year-old girl in Kenya, which was described as “a rite of passage for girls in this culture when they reach seven years of age”.

She graduated from the University of Nairobi as a pharmacist and has practised from time to time in Australia since she and her husband arrived in about 2001.

Nurse and midwife Kubra Magennis used a metal instrument to nick or cut the clitoris of each girl at the request of their mother.

The defence denied that this injured the girls and that “this was a form of symbolic ceremony where metal… were laid upon the outside of the child’s genital area, but that no injury was caused to either child”.

Electronic surveillance provided a great deal of evidence to show that this was not symbolic, but cuts were inflicted. The medical evidence did not demonstrate that any substantial injury, with long-term physical consequences, had been inflicted to either girl.

The mother wrote an apology to her older daughter in which she stated that she thought she was doing what was required culturally, but accepted that this was wrong and broke NSW law.

She said there is “no way” her two younger daughters would be subjected to a khatna ceremony of any description if she could prevent it.

Judge Johnson sentenced her to an aggregate sentence of 15 months, with a non-parole period of 11 months, and proposed to refer the pharmacist as suitable for home detention.

“The fact that [the woman] came to commit these offences, against the background of herself being subjected to ‘khatna’ as a seven-year old girl in Kenya, gives rise to consideration as to the role of personal deterrence on sentence.

“The fact that she is an intelligent woman with a professional qualification living in the Australian community did not, of itself, give rise to a change in thinking on her part when it came to her elder daughters.”

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