Those of us from an Anglo/Saxon, and generally Christian background, may be horrified at the idea of deliberate female genital mutilation (FGM).
In Indonesia; one of our closest neighbours, this practice is not a requirement of Muslim law, however, culturally it is endemic, and in fact, mass mutilation ceremonies involving female children are on the increase.
The World Health Organisation defines FGM as a ” procedure that intentionally alters, or causes injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.
FGM can cause severe bleeding, problems urinating, cysts, infection, sexual dysfunction, and childbirth complications, sometimes death.
Australia is now very much a multicultural society, with citizens from many nations, some of whom consider this practice highly desirable for their young daughters.
In recent years there has been an upsurge in women immigrants from African countries such as Sudan, where the custom of FGM is the norm. While there is little evidence of this abhorrent practice being carried out in this country, health authorities in Queensland have been pro-active in attempting to educate the multicultural community: to raise awareness of the legal and health implications.
There is no proof that FGM is being carried out in Queensland, but it is illegal to perform it or take a child to another country for that purpose.
Under the Queensland Criminal Code, this can attract a 14-year jail term.