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FGM LAW IN AUSTRALIA

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Making a law is not enough. You have to enforce it, it has to come with a program of education and a program of health support, collection of data by for examples midwives who see mothers who were cut when they were children and can look at the risk to the children.

( Felicity Gerry QC )

In Australia, FGM is a criminal offence in all states and territories. It is also illegal to remove a child from Australia for the purposes of FGM. In 2013, the Federal Attorney-General carried out a review of the legislation in each state with recommendations for consistent penalties across the country. A report was published which was noted by the Standing Council on Law and Justice on 5 April 2013. At that meeting, ministers agreed to recommendations aimed at ensuring Australian women and girls are protected to the greatest extent possible from this practice. Penalties at present vary greatly, ranging from 7 years’ imprisonment in some jurisdictions up to 21 years’ imprisonment in others.

The laws are different for each state. Here are the legislation on FGM in every state

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The Attorney General’s 2013 Review report notes that although FGM has been extensively criminalised in Australia, there an issue with lack of prosecutions for the crime. There is an inconsistency between the number of women reported as having sought care for FGM and the number of reports to law agencies. Therefore a recommendation is to increase the information sharing between health and community services and law enforcement agencies.

We have mandatory reporting in every Australian state and territory. Up until now people have not looked at FGM as child abuse, they’ve looked at it as some sort of traditional/cultural practice that we don’t have to think about, but it’s child abuse just the same as any other form of child abuse.
If you were cutting up any other bit of a child, bits that could be seen, you’d soon report it.

( Felicity Gerry QC )

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Mandatory Reporting

Every state has laws which mean that some professionals are legally required to report if they are concerned about a child in danger of physical and sexual abuse.

Who is mandated to make a notification?

The legislation in each state generally contains lists of particular occupations that are mandated to report. The groups of people mandated to notify cases of suspected child abuse and neglect range from persons in a limited number of occupations (e.g., Qld), a very extensive list (ACT, NSW, SA, Tas.), through to every adult (NT, Vic). The occupations most commonly named as mandated reporters are those who deal frequently with children in the course of their work: teachers, doctors, nurses, and police.

In any case you are morally and ethically bound to report a child in danger of serious abuse.

The mandatory reporting requirements for each state are AVAILABLE HERE

To protect girls at risk we need to implement protection orders. You can put orders on the parents not to have the child cut criminal sanction or not to have the child taken out of the country or to disclose where the child is abroad so that consular officials can intervene. Lots of laws like that are actually not in place. There’s no compulsory training for FGM . You can’t just expect a little girl to walk into a Police Station and complain about her parents.

( Felicity Gerry QC )

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Reference for quotes – Felicity Gerry QC FGM interview with ABC

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