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Female genital mutilation: penalties tripled in NSW

Pru Goward: "These changes send the message loud and clear."

Pru Goward: "These changes send the message loud and clear." Photo: Wolter Peeters

Penalties for performing female genital mutilation will increase from seven to 21 years' jail and it will become a crime to have the procedure done overseas.

A new offence of removing a person from NSW with the intention of having the procedure performed will also attract a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison.

There will be no excuses for anyone who performs or facilitates the procedure.  

Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward said female genital mutilation was an abhorrent offence.

“These changes send the message loud and clear that no matter whether you are the doctor holding the scalpel, or the parent buying the plane ticket, the penalty will be the same,” Ms Goward said.

“This crime has profound effects on women's health such as infertility, childbirth complications, and infant and maternal mortality during and shortly after childbirth. The NSW government is making it very clear the practice is simply not acceptable.”

The Attorney-General, Greg Smith, said existing penalties for the crime were inadequate. The new penalties would be the toughest in Australia, equal with Tasmania, he said.

The Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello, said the government would also launch a public awareness campaign to try to break the silence surrounding the procedure in migrant communities.

“We want everyone in NSW to understand – regardless of cultural background or language – FGM is a serious crime in our state and there will be no excuses for anyone who performs or facilitates the procedure,” Mr Dominello said.

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