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Genital mutilation sentence - 2 years

A mother of four has been sentenced to two years for allowing the genital mutilation of her daughters.

Denmark's first case involving parents allowing the genital mutilation of their daughters resulted today in a two-year sentence for the mother.

The major part of the sentence - 1 year and six months - was conditional, while six months was unconditional. The Eritrean woman will not however have to serve a sentence in prison as she has already been in detention for four-and-a-half months.

Father freed
While the mother was sentenced, the father of the girls was found not guilty. The mother's defence attorney said it had not yet been decided whether the mother would appeal her sentence as a matter of principle.

"The important thing is that my client does not have to go to prison again. Two years sounds a lot, but we will now have to think about whether to appeal," says Attorney Jane Ranum.

Third daughter
Apart from the two daughters - now 10 and 12 years old - who had been genitally mutilated, the parents were also charged with planning to have a third daughter mutilated. Both were, however, found not guilty as charged with this latter offence.

Both parents said they had not known that their daughters were to be mutilated. The mother explained in court that she had believed that her daughters were to be treated for a worm infection when her sister took them to a clinic.

The parents were arrested in the summer of 2008 when a pre-school teacher claimed to overhear a conversation in which the parents were said to be planning to travel to Sudan to have a now 6 year-old daughter genitally mutliated.

The family father came to Denmark in 1991 as a political refugee. Originally from Eritrea, the parents had lived for several years in Sudan.

Female genital mutliation - sometimes termed circumcision - has been a criminal offence in Denmark since 2003.

See UNICEF film on genital mutilation

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