The Ethiopian man who in 2006 became the first person in the United States to be convicted in a female genital mutilation case was deported back to his home country on Monday after serving 10 years in prison, authorities confirmed.
Khalid Adem, 41, was convicted of aggravated battery and cruelty to children after using scissors to mutilate his 2-year-old daughter’s genitals in his family’s Atlanta-area home in 2001. The case prompted a state law that expressly forbade the practice, which was already prohibited under federal law.
“A young girl’s life has been forever scarred by this horrible crime,” Sean W. Gallagher, a field office director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement Tuesday. “The elimination of female genital mutilation/cutting has broad implications for the health and human rights of women and girls, as well as societies at large.”
The World Health Organization notes that “FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.
“The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death,” the organization’s website also states.
According to WHO, more than 200 million and girls alive today have been cut in 20 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where the practice is most concentrated, and is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15. The practice has no health benefits and harms girls and women in many ways, including by removing and damaging healthy, normal female genital tissue and interfering with the natural function of girls’ and women’s bodies. Long-term consequences can include urinary problems, vaginal problems, menstrual problems, increased risk of childbirth complications, psychological problems and the need for later surgeries.
According to the Times, FGM has presented new challenges for doctors as the number of African immigrants in the United States grows. In 2013, lawmakers extended the reach of the federal ban to include “vacation cutting,” in which American-born girls are sent to other countries to have the cutting done.