Couple who are first in Ireland to be convicted of female genital mutilation sentenced to jail
A married couple convicted of the female genital mutilation (FGM) of their daughter in the first case of its kind in the nation’s history have been jailed.
The couple both pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of carrying out an act of FGM on a then one-year-old girl at an address in Dublin in September 2016.
The 37-year-old man and 27-year-old woman also pleaded not guilty to one count of child cruelty on the same day. They are both originally from an African nation but cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.
On the eighth day of the trial last month, the jury returned unanimous verdicts of guilty on all counts after almost three hours of deliberations.
Passing sentence today, Judge Elma Sheahan sentenced the husband to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment and the wife to four years and nine months’ imprisonment.
At an earlier sentencing hearing, Detective Inspector Dany Kelly told Shane Costelloe SC, prosecuting, that on the date in question, the accused man attended at a hospital with his daughter who was bleeding from her perineal region.
Det Insp Kelly said the accused man gave an explanation that the child had sustained the injury by falling backwards onto a toy. Medical professionals were of the view that this explanation was not credible and that the injuries were not accidental, counsel said.
Gardaí were notified and carried out a search of the accused’s family home. They seized the toy claimed to be responsible for inflicting the injury and no blood was found on the item following a forensic analysis.
Dr Sinead Harty gave evidence during the trial that in her professional opinion, the injury sustained was not consistent with falling on a toy. She said the head and glans of the victim’s clitoris had been completely removed.
In interview with gardaí, both accused denied that FGM had been carried out on their daughter. The victim’s father said he did not agree with the practice. His wife said she had been a victim of a different form of FGM herself.
The court heard that the victim and her two siblings are currently in the care of their mother’s eldest sister.
The court heard expert evidence that FGM is a cultural phenomenon that goes back many thousands of years and arising predominantly from East Africa. Dr Deborah Hodes said it has no nothing to do with religious beliefs and is absolutely not a principle of the Muslim faith.