A doctor and his pharmacist-wife from Sydney, New South Wales, denied participating in the genital mutilation of their two daughters. The couple, who belong to a small Islamic sect, appeared on Wednesday at the Parramatta Local Court to face two charges of female circumcision.
Court records said that the first procedure was in metropolitan Sydney and the second in the NSW south coast which took place the past two years when the girls were only six- and seven-years-old then.
The couple, ages 42 and 35, has several co-accused including a 58-year-old sheikh who was charged with being an accessory to the genital mutilation. Court records said the sheikh told locals in the past months to lie to investigators about the practice of female circumcision in their community.
John Sutton, the solicitor of the couple, told the court that the accused belong to a very small religious community but the charges are not linked with their Islamic faith since it was not part of a religious act or rite.
The procedure was allegedly performed by a 68-year-old retired nurse who is charged with mutilation and is scheduled to appear on Oct 3 at the Campbelltown Local Court. Besides the retired nurse, four other women from Sydney and Wollongong are included in the charges since they were present during the procedure.
The Medical Council of NSW also plans to raise the matter of the doctor's involvement in the procedure with the Health Care Complaints Commission with the possibility of imposing disciplinary action on the father of the two girls. The Pharmacy Council of NSW is also studying the possibility of suspending the professional registration of the girls' mother.
The parents denied the charges but refused to say anything further. Together with the sheikh, they will appear again before the same Parramatta court on Nov 8.
News of the case comes at a time that global focus is on the growing popularity of the anti-Islam 14-minute video posted on YouTube which led to violent protests in different parts of the world and the death of an American ambassador.
The controversial video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAiOEV0v2RM) has so far reached almost 14 million hits as of Wednesday night with 1 million added in the past 48 hours.