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Last Updated: Monday, 26 June 2006, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Sweden jails circumcision father
A Somali girl undergoing circumcision
The operation carries the risk of infection
A Swedish court has jailed a Somali man for four years for forcing his 13-year-old daughter to be circumcised.

Swedish citizen Ali Elmi Hayow, 41, held his daughter down while the operation was carried out, the court said, although he denied the charges.

It is the first conviction in Sweden since the country banned the practice in 1982.

Female circumcision, common in parts of Africa, involves the partial or total removal of the external genital organs.

'Clear and coherent'

The court determined that Hayow had forced his daughter to undergo circumcision during a visit to Somalia in 2001.

"He decided that the girl should be circumcised, and together with another person kept firm hold of her while a circumciser performed the operation," prosecutor Agnate Henrikson said.

The court said the decision was based on medical examination and on the girl's testimony, which it described as "clear and coherent".

"Her version seems spontaneous and contains some details that lead the court to believe that the events really occurred," the court said.

Hayow was also convicted of travelling to Somalia with his daughter and son without consent from his ex-wife.

He was ordered he pay his daughter damages of 346,000 kronor (US$46,000; 26,000).

Cultural tradition

The case, heard at the Gothenburg district court, was the first regarding female genital mutilation (FGM), as the practice is often called, in a Scandinavian country.

The Swedish law has prohibited carrying out the procedure in Sweden since 1982, and was altered in 1999 to outlaw taking children abroad for the operation.

FGM is banned in many African countries, but is still widespread in some places.

In some communities the controversial practice is a female rite of passage and remains an important religious and cultural tradition.

It can result in infection and, in some cases, death.

Globally, an estimated 130 million women have under gone circumcision, mainly in Africa, the Middle East and some Asian countries, and some 3 million women and girls are circumcised each year, according to the World Health Organisation.


SEE ALSO
Reversing female circumcision
08 Feb 03 |  Health
Kenyan girls flee mutilation
07 Feb 03 |  Africa

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