An Australian court on Thursday morning converted a sentence of home detention to jail time for Dawoodi Bohra leader Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, 59, for his role in attempting to conceal the female genital mutilation of two sisters in 2009 and 2012.
This is the first time Australia has jailed anyone for khatna, as female genital mutilation is called in the community. Vaziri and two others who had performed the khatna – the girls’ mother and the nurse Kubra Magennis – had been sentenced to up to 15 months of home detention in March. Of these, 11 months were without parole.
The Daily Telegraph quoted Justice Peter Johnson of the Supreme Court of New South Wales as saying, “A strong message should be sent to male Dawoodi Bohra religious leaders that criminal acts such as those committed by the offender Mr Vaziri for the purposes of covering up the performance of khatna and deflect a police investigation of FGM offences ought to be met by sentences of full-time imprisonment.”
In April, the community's spiritual leader Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin reportedly gave a sermon urging followers around the world to continue the practice of khatna even if they had to do it secretly. On Monday, Saifuddin released a letter clarifying that while khatna was a religious obligation, followers should adhere to the laws of the country where they live.