Australia convicts two over female genital mutilation

Image of a scalpel
Image caption The girls' clitorises were mutilated in a ceremony known as "khatna"

An Australian court has found two women guilty of carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) on two young girls, in the country's first such conviction.

The incidents took place in separate incidents in 2009 and 2012 in Wollongong, New South Wales when the girls were each about seven years old.

A man, Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, was found guilty of covering up the acts.

FGM is when a girl's genitals are partly or wholly removed for non-medical reasons.

It usually carried out for a number of cultural, religious and social reasons, and is associated with ideals of femininity and modesty in some societies.

The women, who cannot been named, belong to a Muslim sect. One is the girls' mother, the other a 72-year-old former nurse.

The court heard they had cut the genitals of the two young girls in ceremonies known as "khatna".

Vaziri, a leader of the sect, was accused of ordering members to tell police they did not practice FGM.

The three were released ahead of sentencing in February. They could face up to seven years in jail.

FGM has been illegal in Australia for 20 years, but the case marked the first time such offences had come to trial, according to the Australian Associated Press.

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