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
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.
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
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.
UNICEF film on genital mutilation