Parents charged after girl circumcised

News  Toronto Sun. Friday, 15 February 2002.

Jonathon Kingstone

TORONTO – The parents of a St. Catharines girl who was forced to undergo female circumcision appear in court today charged with arranging the disfiguring surgery.

The girl, now aged 13, went to police recently about the operation, which was performed on her in the family's home two years ago. Her mother and father were arrested yesterday and charged with aggravated assault. The father faces an additional charge of assault with a weapon in a separate incident in which police said he beat the girl with a belt.

Police are searching for the practitioner who performed the controversial mutilation.

The man or woman is not believed to be a doctor, but little else is known since the person's identity is being protected by the parents, Niagara Police Det.-Const. Dave Weeks said.

Niagara's family and children's services has been called in but officials will not comment on whether the child has been removed from family custody.


Police refused to divulge the race or religion of the parents. Historically, the surgery has been performed mainly by certain Muslims based on the belief it is required by Islam.

Female genital mutilation has been practiced for 4,000 years in almost 30 African and Middle Eastern nations and in parts of Asia. The surgery, typically performed on girls before puberty, ranges from cutting the tip of the clitoris to removing all external genitals.

In Canada, female genital surgery is prohibited by the  External link criminal code except where the procedure is medically necessary and performed by a doctor or where the subject is 18 years of age and consents to the procedure and no bodily harm results.

The parents, whose names are being withheld to protect their daughter's identity, are expected to appear in St. Catharines court for a bail hearing this morning.


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