[JURIST] In the first US case of its kind, a Georgia state court [Gwinnett County courts website] Wednesday found Ethiopian immigrant Khalid Adem guilty of sexually mutilating his then-two-year-old daughter and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. Adem was tried on charges of cruelty to children and aggravated battery after a doctor discovered Adem's daughter had her clitoris removed, allegedly with a pair of scissors. Georgia [JURIST news archive] did not have an anti-genital mutilation statute on the books in 2001 when the incident occurred, but the Georgia General Assembly [official website] subsequently passed a bill [text] to ban the practice of female genital mutilation [World Health Organization backgrounder], or female circumcision, in 2005 with the support of the victim's mother, Fortunate Adem.
Female genital mutilation of young women occurs in different cultures, ethnicities, and religions. Human rights advocates claim the practice denies women sexual pleasure, causes dangerous infections, and creates deep emotional scars. Sexual mutilation is illegal in 16 US states [NDAA statutory backgrounder] and has been prohibited by federal law [statute, text] for people under 18 years of age since 1997. The US Department of State [official website] has estimated [Report, PDF] that up to 130 million women worldwide have undergone circumcision since 2001. The procedure is not specifically illegal in Ethiopia [US State Dept. backgrounder], but government policy discourages "harmful traditional practices." AP has more.