It was a case that brought national attention to the worldwide issue of female genital mutilation. Though Khalid Adem adamantly denied he’d used scissors to circumcise his 2-year-old daughter in 2001, the girl and her mother told a different story.
Now, after serving 10 years in a Georgia prison, Adem has been deported to his native Ethiopia, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said this week. Adem’s 2006 conviction was a win for activists who have fought against the brutal practice, which in some areas of Africa is considered a coming-of-age ritual, and led to a new Georgia law. But though Adem is believed to be among the first convicted in the U.S. for cutting a girl’s genitalia, the act is still prevalent today.
IN DEPTH: Ancient rite or a wrong?
According to the Atlanta-based Safe Hands for Girls organization, 200 million women worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation, also known as FGM, and 3 million endure the tortuous ritual each year. The group’s found, Jaha Dukureh, is a two-time survivor of FGM and now a mother of three.
“The hands of the people who do the cutting are not safe,” Dukureh told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a 2016 interview. “When young women come to us for sanctuary or anything, we want them to know they’re coming into safe hands.”
Adem, now 41, cut his daughter’s genitalia inside the family’s Duluth apartment in 2001, according to testimony during his trial. But the girl’s mother did not report the crime until 2003 because she did not know it had occurred.
At the time of Adem’s arrest, there was no Georgia law prohibiting female genital mutilation. But in May 2005, the act became a felony when a bill was signed into law.
During his seven-day trial, Adem claimed the girl’s mother and grandmother had mutilated the girl and blamed him while the couple was going through a divorce and custody battle. The girl’s grandmother and therapist testified that the girl had continuous nightmares where she screamed “No, Daddy. No.”
After deliberating three hours, a Gwinnett County jury convicted Adem of aggravated battery and cruelty to children. In February 2007, Adem began serving his sentence at Wheeler Correctional Facility in Alamo.
On Oct. 21, he was released from prison and taken into ICE custody, the agency said Wednesday. Between then and when he was expelled on Monday, ICE detained him, brought him before an immigration judge for a deportation order, obtained travel documents from Ethiopia and arranged a removal flight and an escort for him.
The Ethiopian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning about what consequences Adem will face, if any, in his native country.
— Please return for updates.
— Jeremy Redmon contributed to this report