The Swiss Federal Court has confirmed the sentence given by a regional court to a Somali woman from canton Neuchâtel found guilty of genital mutilation of her two daughters.
The Neuchâtel court had sentenced the woman to eight months’ prison, in the first Swiss case of its kind.
In a ruling made public on Friday, Switzerland’s highest court dismissed the woman’s claims that she did not know it was a criminal act.
The girls were six and a half and seven when the procedure was carried out between 2013 and 2015 in Somalia and Ethiopia.
The Federal Court said that the fact the act was carried out abroad and that the woman did not have any relation to Switzerland at that moment did not play a role under the law.
The Neuchâtel court judgement was based on a relatively new article in Swiss law which aims to prevent Swiss-based families from having their daughters circumcised, whether in Switzerland or abroad.
The mother now lives in Neuchâtel in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and was reported to the authorities by her estranged husband, who is also from Somalia. The woman, who is illiterate, was reported to have been under immense social pressure in her home country for the girls to undergo the procedure.
When handing down the original sentence, the Neuchâtel court said it was mainly of a symbolic nature. But given the gravity of the offence, a short prison sentence was still necessary.