ETHIOPIA: US verdict: Ethiopians march

 18/11/2006 23:17  - (SA)  

Addis Ababa - Hundreds of Ethiopians took to the streets of the capital on Saturday to protest the landmark conviction by a United States court of an Ethiopian man for sexually mutilating his two-year-old daughter with scissors.

Organisers said some 2 000 people turned out in Addis Ababa for a march in support of Khalid Adem, a 31-year-old Ethiopian immigrant who was convicted of female genital mutilation by a court in the southern US state of Georgia.

Adem was sentenced on November 1 to 10 years in prison for aggravated battery and cruelty to children for the 2001 crime, which was not discovered for two years until the mother took her daughter to a doctor.

"We are protesting against the verdict, we believe it is not justice, there was no evidence," said Adem's brother, Adel Adem, who organised the protest to demand his immediate release from prison.

"It is a false accusation, the jury was not fair," he said.

"We think that he is innocent. His sister and his niece are not circumcised.

First case in the US

My brother is against circumcision, and our family, too."

Adem had faced a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and his conviction represented the first case of female genital mutilation in the United States.

The practice, which involves the full or partial removal of the clitoris, is common in many parts of Africa and more than 100 million woman are believed to have been subjected to it in 28 African nations from Senegal to Somalia.

Sexual mutilation is illegal in 16 US states and since 1997 has been prohibited by federal law for people under 18 years of age.

However, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 160 000 women have undergone sexual mutilation in the United States, including more than 50 000 minors.

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