Taskforce created to combat genital mutilation

Taskforce created to combat genital mutilation

Taskforce created to combat genital mutilation

Updated 12 December 2012, 7:21 AEDT

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has been appointed to lead a government taskforce aimed at preventing female genital mutilation.

There is no data on how widespread the practice is in Australia, but more than 120,000 migrant women here have suffered genital mutilation.

Ms Plibersek says one case of genital mutilation is one too many.

The practice is a crime in Australia, but Ms Plibersek says the Government's approach has to go beyond law enforcement.

"We have thousands of women now in Australia who've come from countries where this practice is common," she told 7.30.

"We need to make sure that we've got good obstetric and gynaecological care and that we help those women and their families ensure that this practice is never passed on to their daughters."

The practice is common in Islamic populations in Africa, South America, parts of Asia and the Middle East, but it is also happening in Australia.

Since 7.30 reported on female genital mutilation in October, eight people have been charged in New South Wales and further accusations have surfaced in Western Australia.

The procedure can range from a small cut to a girl's clitoris to the entire removal of the genitals.

In extreme cases the wound is sewn up to leave only one opening - the size of a matchstick - for urination and menstruation.