Mother, nurse and Muslim leader found guilty over the genital mutilation of two girls who were told to imagine they were ‘a princess in a garden’ during the ‘cutting’
- A jury found the girls’ mother and a nurse were found guilty on Thursday
- A third male defendant has been found guilty of accessory after the fact
- The eldest girl, who is now 11, said the mutilation was part of their culture
- Supreme court judges removed their wigs to appear ‘more human’ to girls
Two women have been found guilty in a Sydney court of mutilating the genitals of two young girls.
A retired nurse and the girls’ mother, neither of whom can be named, cut the two sisters’ clitorises in separate incidents in 2009 and 2012.
A high-ranking member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community, Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, has been found guilty on a charge of accessory after the fact.
Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri (far right) leaves the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday. A retired nurse and the mother of the two young girls were found guilty of genitally mutilating her children
During the trial, NSW Supreme Court Judge Justice Peter Johnson removed his white wig when the youngest of the girls, a nine-year-old known only as C2, appeared on video screen in the courtroom, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Justice Johnson asked all three barristers hearing the case to do the same, hoping the gesture would make the young girls feel more comfortable and give the barristers a ‘more human’ appearance.
His actions echoed the sensitivity of the case, which is the first female genital mutilation trial since the offence was included in the law books 20 years ago.
The women are also are a part of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. The eldest of the girls told police that she had her sister had their genitals cut because it ‘has to happen’ to every female in their culture
At the beginning of the nine-week trial in September, a video of the eldest of the girls, known as C1, explaining the cutting of her genitals to police was shown to the jury.
In the recorded interview from 2012, the now 11-year-old C1 told police she imagined being a princess in a garden when told to picture a place she liked during the mutilation.
She told officers that she and her younger sister had ‘cutting’ to their private parts because it ‘has to happen’ to every female in their culture.
All three defendants will be sentenced on February 5 at the NSW Supreme Court (pictured)
A Department of Community Services worker asked C1 if she knew what the term ‘khatna’ meant.
‘I heard it’s something that some young girls have, and that it’s like a type of cutting to the private part,’ the DOCS worker said.
‘Yeah, it is,’ C1 replied.
Justice Johnson asked all three barristers hearing the case to remove their wigs, hoping the gesture would make the young girls feel more comfortable and give the barristers a ‘more human’ appearance
‘How do you know that?’ the DOCS worker inquired.
‘Because it’s happened to me,’ the girl said.
C1 said the procedure hurt and afterwards she was given a glass of lemonade before being taken to have a shower.
Her younger sister, known as C2, was also cut in a separate procedure in her parents’ bedroom during school holidays when she was six.
The sisters, now aged nine and 11, were told to picture themselves in a place they liked before the procedures took place in separate incidents in 2009 and 2012
Justice Peter Johnson thanked the jury on Thursday for their service over the lengthy trial.
“It has been a difficult and demanding trial in a number of respects,” he told them.
The trio of defendants made no reaction as the verdicts were read out in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday.
The retired nurse, who has lived in both Kenya and the UK in the past, has never had a criminal record
They will not be sentenced until February 5 and their barristers have acknowledged they may be sentenced to time behind bars.
Barrister Robert Sutherland SC, who represents two of the offenders, told the court the level of the injuries suffered by the victims “falls at the lower end of the spectrum” and that a sentence other than full-time custody may be appropriate.
Even if the three offenders do serve time, however, they will face a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment on each count, because their offences were committed before new laws pushed the applicable maximum terms up to 21 years.
The sisters were examined by a paediatrician at Westmead Children’s Hospital (pictured)
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