Criminal prosecutions have recently been started against practitioners of female genital cutting (FGC) in Barcelona, Spain and in Sydney, Australia.

Steven Svoboda

Attorneys for the Rights of the Child

Spanish court sentences Gambian couple over FGM

June 1, 2014

A Spanish court has confirmed 12 year prison sentences on a Gambian
couple in Vilanova i la Gertrú, Barcelona for circumcising their two
daughters who are minors. According to the details of the verdict which
reached the{ African Press Agency} on Sunday, the Supreme Court in
Barcelona rejected an appeal brought to overturn the verdict against
the wife woman referred to as Binta S and the husband called T Sekou.

The Catalan court had stated that the couple who has been living in
Spain for twenty years was guilty of perpetrating female genital
mutilation as charged.

“Clitoridectomy is not culture, it is mutilation and discrimination
against women” the court ruled.

Lawyers for the couple appealed the Barcelona court’s judgment
claiming, among other reasons that the parents were not involved in the
circumcision of their daughters.

However, the Supreme Court reiterated that although it could not
determine the exact time the circumcisions took place, they had
received the full blessing of the parents who were aware of the acts
carried out in Spain between July 2010 and January 2011.

The court pointed out that respect for the customs and traditions of
other cultures “has limits where aberrant and unacceptable behaviors
occur for our Spanish cultural environment.”

FGM is a burning issue in The Gambia where the state remains ambivalent
over calls to ban the practice.

My colleague and coauthor Robert Darby of Circumcision Information Australia (CIA) reports on a pending prosecution in Sydney. The magistrate, Darby notes, is merely quoting the relevant provisions of the New South Wales Crimes Act, but nevertheless she thereby highlights the double standard betwen how FGC and male circumcision are treated by the law ( The correct URL for the SMH report cited by Darby is

“Any cut or nick … [is] mutilation”, says Magistrate

Three people have been charged over the genital mutilation of two girls, aged six and seven, in 2010-12. The accused are the mother, a retired nurse, Kubra Magennis, and a “sheikh” (i.e. Islamic community leader) Shabbir Vaziri, from Auburn. Police state that the cutting was performed for “cultural reasons”. Charges against the girls father, a Sydney doctor, were dropped. When the trio appeared in court, their defence lawyer sought to argue that the girls were not victims of genital mutilation because they received no more than “a nick” to their clitoris. The magistrate dismissed the submission, stating that under the section of the NSW Crimes Act covering female genital cutting, “Any cut or nick to the clitoris will amount to mutilation.”

CIA comment: The firm reaction of the authorities to this instance of violence and cruelty to children is a vivid contrasts to their indifference when two boys were circumcised (i.e. had their entire foreskins cut off – a far more damaging surgery than a mere nick) for similar cultural reasons in Bundaberg in 2002. The SMH report states wrongly that these three are the first people to be charged with FGM in NSW; in fact, south coast doctor Graeme Reeves was prosecuted and convicted for this offence in 2013.