Couple Charged in Norway for Circumcising 5 Girls

Reuters, June 6, 2008

Police in Norway have arrested a Gambian-born man and charged him and his wife with subjecting five of their six daughters to genital mutilation, officials said on Friday.

The practice, also known as female circumcision, is outlawed in Norway and arouses horror among many people in the West but is a rite of passage for young women in many countries, predominantly in Africa.

The youngest of the five mutilated girls, all born in Norway, is five years old, police officials said. The others are aged seven, 10, 13 and 14 and live in Gambia, national broadcaster NRK reported.

Police officer Hanne Kristin Rohde, head of the violent crime and vice section of the Oslo police, said on Norwegian commercial television TV 2 that the father—a naturalized Norwegian citizen along with his wife—was taken into custody on Friday.

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The child protection authorities have taken custody of the two youngest girls, Rohde said, adding that the police would now seek to bring the other four back to Norway in cooperation with the parents and Gambian and other Norwegian authorities.

U.N. agencies say an estimated 100 to 140 million women and girls worldwide have undergone genital mutilation, whose proponents say it promotes chastity before marriage and fidelity afterwards by reducing female sexual desire. Around 3 million a year are believed to be subjected to it.

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