THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, Atlanta, Georgia, 2 March 2004.

Jury indicts father accused of using scissors to circumcise daughter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/02/04

A father accused of performing female genital mutilation on his then two-year-old daughter was indicted by a Gwinnett grand jury.

Khalid Adem, 28, was indicted Friday and charged with aggravated battery and cruelty to children. Adem, arrested in March of 2003, is accused of using scissors to circumcise his daughter.

The toddler's mother alerted police of the alleged incident, which police say took place in 2001.

Adem's attorney, W. Mark Hill, contends that someone else could have performed the circumcision, including the child's mother or grandmother, who have roots in a South African tribe that has practiced female circumcision.

"He did not do it," said Hill. "We have asked the maternal grandmother and the mother to take a lie detector test, but they will not do it."

Since the arrest, the couple has divorced and Adem does not have visitation rights, Hill said. Adem was born in Ethiopia and immigrated to the U.S. more than 10 years ago, Hill said.

Gwinnett police Sgt. Jay Fetner said during a preliminary court hearing that the word of the child is the only evidence police have connecting Adem to the circumcision. The child told a doctor that Adem had performed the procedure in his Duluth apartment while Adem's friend held her legs, Fetner said.

The traditional African practice of female circumcision has been denounced for decades by health and human rights activists. In some areas in Africa, the act can involve a coming-of-age ritual celebrated with feasting, drumming, dancing and gifts.

Opponents claim the act, which typically involves the removal of the clitoris, is extremely painful and unsafe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 160,000 girls and women in immigrant communities in the United States may have undergone circumcision.

(File created 5 March 2004)