Sydney Dad Charged for Allowing 9-Month-Old Baby Daughter's Genital Mutilation

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By Reissa Su | January 2, 2014 3:16 PM EST

A father in Sydney, Australia has been charged by authorities for consenting to the genital mutilation of his infant daughter during a holiday trip abroad.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A baby stroller is seen as mothers play with their children at a public area in downtown Shanghai November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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According to the police, the man travelled with his family in February 2012. It was also during that time the father consented to have his nine-month-old baby undergo female circumcision. It was only six months later that the mother realised what her partner had done when she took her baby to the doctor.

NSW Police Child Abuse Squad was alerted of the incident. The father was arrested on Dec 31, following police investigations. He was charged with aiding/abetting/counseling or procurement of female genital mutilation. The Sydney father was granted conditional bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on Jan 28. 

Authorities declined to reveal the country where the family stayed on holiday as part of efforts to protect the identity of the baby.

NSW Community Services Minister Pru Goward remarked that female genital mutilation on children is "much more common in Australia." Ms Goward said enforcing stricter laws on what she calls a "hideous crime" is not the solution.

In an interview with ABC Radio, Ms Goward stated that there is a need to improve community engagement and education to prevent infants and young girls from being targeted.

The arrest of a father in Sydney is only the second case to be prosecuted in relation to female genital mutilation in NSW, according to reports. The recent case was also described as the first time a person was charged for having the procedure done outside Australia.

In 2012, members of a small religious group in Sydney were charged for the genital mutilation of two sisters, aged 6 and 7 years old. The case is still pending in courts.

Ms Goward believes it is easy for people to hide in a community that tolerates female genital mutilation. She said the Sydney father's  case was the second one to have been conducted secretly with conspirators keeping authorities from knowing.

The crime of female genital mutilation is often discovered when the victim suffers a complication from the procedure or there is trouble in the marriage. Ms Goward called for a change in culture and attitudes.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria / )
A baby stroller is seen as mothers play with their children at a public area in downtown Shanghai November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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