A man is being charged with aggravated battery and cruelty to children after allegedly removing his daughter’s clitoris when she was two years old in the first criminal case in the US involving female genital mutilation (FGM). Prosecutors claim that Khalid Adem, a 30-year-old Ethiopian immigrant, removed his daughter’s clitoris with scissors in their apartment in 2001, the Associated Press reports. The girl, now seven years old, was videotaped during an interview at the age of three and identified her father as the person who cut her genitals. Mr. Adem, however, testified last week that he had never circumcised his daughter or asked anyone else to do it, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The child’s mother also blames the father. “He said he wanted to preserve her virginity. He said it was the will of God. I became angry in my mind. I thought he was crazy,” testified the girl’s mother, Fortunate Adem, according to the AP.
The US State Department estimates that as many as 130 million women have experienced FGM; 168,000 of those cases happened in the United States. A federal law banning FGM in the US was passed last year. Khalid Adem is not being charged under the federal law because it did not apply when his daughter was mutilated. Under aggravated battery and cruelty to children charges, Khalid Adem may receive up to 40 years in prison if he is convicted.