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01:51 - Source: CNN

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Khalid Adem was convicted in 2006 of aggravated battery and cruelty to children in the first degree

FGM is a "global concern," the World Health Organization says

CNN  — 

An Ethiopian man convicted in Georgia of mutilating his 2-year-old daughter’s genitals has been sent back to his home country by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE removed Khalid Adem, 41, on Monday after he served 10 years in prison. ICE officials said the case is thought to be the first criminal conviction in the United States for female genital mutilation, a widely scorned but persistent procedure the World Health Organization calls a “global concern.”

“The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and northeastern regions of Africa, in some countries (in) the Middle East and Asia, as well as among migrants from these areas,” WHO said.

“A young girl’s life has been forever scarred by this horrible crime,” Sean W. Gallagher, field office director for ICE’s Atlanta Emergency and Removal Operations, 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 had been convicted in 2006 in Gwinnett County, outside Atlanta, of aggravated battery and cruelty to children in the first degree, ICE said in a statement.

“Female genital mutilation/cutting is a federal crime. Any involvement in committing this crime is a serious human rights violation which may result in imprisonment and potential removal from the U.S. Individuals suspected of female genital mutilation/cutting, including sending girls overseas to be cut, may be investigated by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center,” ICE said.

The World Health Organization says the practice has no medical benefits, and the reasons the procedure is done “vary from one region to another as well as over time, and include a mix of socio-cultural factors within families and communities.”

“It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies. Generally speaking, risks increase with increasing severity of the procedure,” WHO says on its website.

Many girls and young women die every year from complications associated with genital mutilation, authorities say.