An Ethiopian man was deported to his home country on Monday after serving 10 years in prison for cutting off his 2-year-old daughter’s clitoris with a pair of scissors at their Georgia home in 2001, federal officials said.
Khalid Adem, 41, was imprisoned in 2006 after he became the first person in the U.S. to be convicted of female genital mutilation — a ritualistic practice common in certain parts of the world, but widely condemned in western countries.
Adem committed the grisly act at his family’s Atlanta apartment in 2001 and was subsequently slammed with aggravated battery and cruelty to children charges.
Sean Gallagher, a director with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, stressed the seriousness of Adem’s actions.
“A young girl’s life has been forever scarred by this horrible crime,” Gallagher said in a statement. “The elimination of female genital mutilation/cutting has broad implications for the health and human rights of women and girls, as well as societies at large.”
Adem’s case led to the implementation of a new Georgia law banning the procedure, which was already illegal under federal statutes.
Ritualistic cutting is common in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia and some 200 million women and girls have been subjected to the practice, according to estimates from the World Health Organization.
While genital cutting is seen as central to certain communities, WHO notes that the practice often leads to long-term health consequences, such as increased risk of newborn deaths, psychological distress, severe infections and problems urinating. Girls are typically cut before they turn 15.
Genital mutilation is illegal under federal U.S. law, but some 500,000 women had been cut in the country as of 2012, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thousands more have been sent abroad for so-called “vacation cutting” — a human rights violating practice that involves sending American-born females overseas to be cut. More than 380 people have been arrested in the U.S. for facilitating such crimes since 2003, according to ICE.