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Dad Found Guilty Of Genital Mutilation

Khalid Adem wipes away tears while testifying in a Friday, Oct. 27, 2006 file photo, in Lawrenceville, Ga. A jury Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006, found an Ethiopian immigrant Khalid Adem guilty of the genital mutilation of his 2-year-old daughter in what was believed to be the first criminal case in the United States involving the ancient African tradition. Adem was convicted of aggravated battery and cruelty to children.
AP
An Ethiopian immigrant who was convicted Wednesday of the genital mutilation of his 2-year-old daughter was sentenced to 10 years in prison in what was believed to be the first such criminal case in the United States.

Khalid Adem, 30, was convicted of aggravated battery and cruelty to children. Prosecutors said he used scissors to remove his daughter's clitoris in his family's Atlanta-area apartment in 2001.

The child's mother, Fortunate Adem, said she did not discover it until more than a year later.

During her father's trial, the girl, now 7, testified on videotape while clutching a teddy bear that her father "cut me on my private part."

Federal law specifically bans the practice of genital mutilation, but many states do not have a law addressing it. Georgia lawmakers, with the support of Fortunate Adem, passed an anti-mutilation law last year, but Khalid Adem was not tried under that law since it did not exist when his daughter's cutting allegedly happened.

During the trial, Khalid Adem testified he never circumcised his daughter or asked anyone else to do so. He said he grew up in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and considers the practice more prevalent in rural areas.

The Adems divorced three years ago, and attorney Mark Hill suggested that the couple's daughter was coached to testify against her father by her mother, who has full custody of the girl.

Khalid Adem, who cried throughout the trial and during his testimony, was asked what he thought of someone who believes in the practice. He replied: "The word I can say is 'mind in the gutter.' He is a moron."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, using figures from the 1990 Census, has estimated that 168,000 girls and women in the U.S. had undergone the procedure or were at risk of being subjected to it. Since 2001, the State Department estimates that up to 130 million women worldwide had undergone circumcision.

Knives, razors or even sharp stones are usually used, according to a 2001 department report. The tools often are not sterilized, and often, many girls are circumcised at the same ceremony, leading to infection.

The report estimated that 73 percent of women in Ethiopia had undergone the procedure, based on a 1997 survey.

The practice crosses ethnic and cultural lines and is not tied to a particular religion. Activists say the practice is intended to deny women sexual pleasure. In its most extreme form, the clitoris and parts of the labia are removed and the labia that remain are stitched together.