Australia's NSW Raises Maximum Penalty for Female Genital Mutilation

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By Reissa Su | February 6, 2014 5:52 PM EST

The New South Wales Government has moved to increase the penalty for female genital mutilation. The maximum penalty is now 21 years instead of seven as the government makes it illegal to take a female out of the state to let her genitals mutilated somewhere else.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A man carries a baby at a busy area of downtown Shanghai November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The implementation of the new law will close the loophole which allowed a person to take advantage of it and take a child outside Australia to undergo female mutilation to escape punishment.

According to Community Services Minister Pru Goward, a person will be charged with female genital mutilation offences even if he or she is a doctor, a nurse or a relative buying a plane ticket. Anyone who is involved will be charged.

The NSW government expects to see more prosecutions for female genital mutilation as a result. Minister for Communities Victor Dominello said it was difficult to assess how the practice is widespread in NSW due to the secrecy surrounding female genital mutilation.

Mr Dominello said it is a "barbaric practice" that should have been left in the Dark Ages and NSW is showing it will not tolerate offenders.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner said it is usually the health professionals who notice and report cases of female genital mutilation. They are also responsible for providing long-term treatment to victims.

ABC also reported that NSW Health will help develop education programmes for culturally diverse communities to spread awareness on the health effects of female genital mutilation.

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.

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.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria / )
A man carries a baby at a busy area of downtown Shanghai November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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