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9 Dec 2015

Motion | Female Genital Mutilation

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 21:07 :40 ): I rise to support the motion. As I have indicated to the chamber, I will be supporting the passing of the motion and I encourage members of the council to do the same. The Hon. Michelle Lensink in her motion refers to some startling and disturbing data. No FGM data states that for women born outside of Australia:

Australia has over 83,000 women and girls who have migrated to the country and who are likely to be survivors of FGM or at risk of FGM. This includes

5 , 640 girls under the age of 15—this group are at high risk of FGM

36,236 women of childbearing age (between the ages of 15-19)

They also assert:

Women born outside Australia who are likely to be survivors of FGM are estimated to give birth to around 1100 girls every year—that’s around 3 per day. These girls are at high risk of FGM.

From my perspective, you only need to do a cursory search of the internet to identify those recent New South Wales cases, where police are charging individuals facilitating FGM for family members. From my reading regarding the issue of FGM, it has no health benefits and involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female tissue. It results in immediate complications and also has the potential to cause significant long-term health consequences.

It is reported that the causes of FGM include a mix of cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities. That is why this motion and the work of No FGM is so important to our community. What the data tells us is that we as community leaders must have serious regard to this issue and we must increasingly facilitate and assist our health professionals in educating sections of our community that FGM is no longer an acceptable practice.

I will finish off this short speech in support of the motion by providing the chamber with a quote from the writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is a Fellow of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. A quote she has provided in an interview is as follows:

‘It was done to me at age of five, and 10 years later, even 20 years later, I would not have testified against my parents,’ she states. ‘It is a psychological issue. The people who are doing this are fathers, mothers, grandmothers, aunts. No little girl is going to send them to prison. How do you live with that guilt?’

On that note, I commend the motion to the council.

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