Couple jailed in France for mutilating daughters’ genitals

June 4th, 2012 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 4 (IANS) An African Islamic holy man - alleged to be endowed with magical powers - and his wife have been jailed in France for mutilating the genitals of their four daughters.

At the trial in Nevers in central France, the couple was charged with involvement in an act of mutilation by an older person of a minor under the age of 15 years, a crime punishable in France by a maximum of 20 years in jail, the Daily Mail reported.

The father was sentenced to two years and his wife got 18 months for allowing a so-called doctor to remove parts of their daughters’ genitals.

The man was said to be a “marabout” — an Islamic holy man alleged to be endowed with magical powers, the report said.

The couple hail from west Africa’s Guinea, where according to a 2007 study, 96 percent of young girls have their genitals mutilated in the name of religion, the Daily Mail said.

African marabouts are said to be able to cure illnesses and restore whole communities to well-being simply by waving feathers and intoning magical words.

At the trial, the two youngest daughters declared themselves plaintiffs under French law but the elder girls withdrew their complaint and sided with their parents.

The two eldest girls defended their parents’ action, saying that they did not understand why they were appearing in court. All four victims are now aged between 11 and 20.

The mother told the court she now regretted what had happened.

French Minister of Women’s Rights, Moroccan-born Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has vowed to track down people who have performed such surgery on an estimated 50,000 girls in France.

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