Queensland woman denies taking daughters to Somalia to undergo genital mutilation

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A woman accused of sending her daughters to Somalia to undergo genital mutilation has pleaded not guilty in a Queensland court.

The defendant faces two charges of removing a child for genital mutilation – in the first prosecution of its type in Queensland.

The woman allegedly took the two girls, aged nine and 12, to Somalia in April 2015.

The defendant and the daughters cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Crown prosecutor Dejana Kovac told the court the two young Australian-born girls went to Somalia for the first time ostensibly on a holiday with their mother and two other siblings. 

When the children returned to Australia in November 2015, they were interviewed separately by police. 

The court was closed to the public and media while the interviews were played, but the prosecution said the eldest described an unknown female doctor “did something” that “caused pain for a number of days” while the youngest was more reluctant to talk.

The eldest told police their mother was present during the procedure, they were not sedated and the pain was in the part of the body used to urinate.

Ms Kovac told the court a medical examination of both girls performed shortly after their return supports the charge they underwent female genital mutilation, which included a reduction of the clitoral hood.

The jury heard there was a previous trial of the case in October 2017, in which another prosecutor asked the girls about what happened.

Ms Kovac said the girls by this time were living back with their parents and under cross-examination denied any procedure had taken place, saying they had be told to lie by their elder sister.

Instead they gave evidence they had suffered from skin rashes all over their bodies during the trip

Ms Kovac told the jury they should ignore this evidence.

Evidence will be heard from 10 witnesses for the jury trial in the District Court, which is expected to finish by the end of the week.

The Queensland law carries a maximum penalty of 14 years jail.

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