Section 45 Crimes Act | Female Genital Mutilation


Print

Female genital mutilation is a criminal offence under section 45 of the Crimes Act 1900.

Under that section, female genital mutilation is defined as the “excision, infibulation or mutilation of any part of the labia majora or labia minora or the clitoris of another person.”

The maximum penalty for this offence is 21 years imprisonment.

However, this is the absolute maximum which will only apply in the most serious cases.

You could also be charged with this offence and face the same penalties if you are found to have aided, abetted, counselled or procured a person to perform these acts.

There are, however, exceptions to the law against female genital mutilation:

  • Where a medical practitioner performs a surgical operation upon a person which is necessary for their health;
  • Where a medical professional or authorised professional performs a medical procedure for medical purposes in connection with a person in labour, or someone who has just given birth.
  • Sexual reassignment procedures performed by medical practitioners. 

It is important to note that a person’s consent cannot be used as a defence in relation to charges of genital mutilation.

If you’ve been charged with this offence, our specialist criminal defence team can help you understand the law and your options.

The Legislation

45 Prohibition of female genital mutilation

(1) A person who:

(a) excises, infibulates or otherwise mutilates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person, or

(b) aids, abets, counsels or procures a person to perform any of those acts on another person,

is liable to imprisonment for 21 years.

(3) It is not an offence against this section to perform a surgical operation if that operation:

(a) is necessary for the health of the person on whom it is performed and is performed by amedical practitioner, or

(b) is performed on a person in labour or who has just given birth, and for medical purposesconnected with that labour or birth, by a medical practitioner or authorised professional, or

(c) is a sexual reassignment procedure and is performed by a medical practitioner.

(4) In determining whether an operation is necessary for the health of a person only matters relevant to the medical welfare of the person are to be taken into account.

(5) It is not a defence to a charge under this section that the person mutilated by or because of the acts alleged to have been committed consented to the acts.

(6) This section applies only to acts occurring after the commencement of the section.

(7) In this section: “authorised professional” means:

(a) a registered midwife, or

(b) a midwifery student, or

(c) in relation to an operation performed in a place outside Australia-a person authorised topractise midwifery by a body established under the law of that place having functions similar to the functions of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, or

(d) a medical student.

“medical practitioner” , in relation to an operation performed in a place outside Australia, includes a person authorised to practise medicine by a body established under the law of that place having functions similar to the Medical Board of Australia.

“medical student” means:

(a) a person registered as a student in the medical profession under the Health PractitionerRegulation National Law, or

(b) in relation to an operation performed in a place outside Australia-a person undergoing acourse of training with a view to being authorised to be a medical practitioner in that place.

“midwifery student” means:

(a) a person registered as a student in the nursing and midwifery profession under the HealthPractitioner Regulation National Law, or

(b) in relation to an operation performed in a place outside Australia-a person undergoing acourse of training with a view to being authorised to be a midwife practitioner in that place.

“sexual reassignment procedure” means a surgical procedure to alter the genital appearance of a person to the appearance (as nearly as practicable) of the opposite sex to the sex of the person.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

Being charged with female genital mutilation can have a detrimental impact on your life, career and your professional reputation.

But by arming yourself with the best possible defence, you can avoid these potential consequences.

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, our lawyers are experts in the field of criminal law.

Our unparalleled knowledge of the law, coupled with years of experience fighting some of the most difficult criminal cases puts our clients at a leading advantage when it comes to securing a positive outcome in your case.

Our lawyers will carefully examine all the evidence in order to identify any possible weaknesses with the prosecution case.

Where problems are identified, our lawyers can write to police and push to have the charges dropped before your matter reaches a defended hearing.

Alternatively, if you wish to fight the charges in court, our senior lawyers will assist you in identifying and raising any possible defences.

Our experienced advocates will fight hard to win your case by presenting any favourable evidence in a compelling manner in court and casting doubt on the prosecution case.

We offer a FREE first conference with our lawyers to help you understand your options – so give us a call now on (02) 9261 8881 and take the first step in fighting your matter.