Quebec rights body opens investigation after young girl's clitoris allegedly removed
Quebec's human rights commission is investigating reports that the province's youth protection services failed to act on a suspected case of child genital mutilation.
The commission said Thursday that it opened the probe on its own initiative after learning in the media about the case involving a two-year-old girl.
La Tribune reported Wednesday that a daycare worker in the Quebec City region discovered while changing a girl's diaper that her clitoris had been removed — a practice that since 1997 has been recognized in Canada's Criminal Code as a form of aggravated assault.
The worker and her supervisor alerted Quebec's youth protection services, which reportedly replied that the case was too delicate for the agency to handle.
"The investigation aims to verify whether the alleged facts are true and if the rights of the child have been respected," the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse said in a news release. "Its goal is also to ensure that measures are taken so that such a situation does not happen again."
In an email, a spokesperson for Quebec's Department of Health and Social Services, which oversee youth protection, said, "the necessary verifications and followups will be carried out according to the powers conferred upon it by the law." The human rights commission can count on the department's "full co-operation," spokesperson Marie-Claude Lacasse added.
Questioned in the legislature about the case, junior health minister Lionel Carmant assured the opposition that there would be a review about the way child abuse is reported to authorities. Carmant said he had called the national director of the province's child protection services.
"She has the role of ensuring that the reporting process and the retention of reports are done properly, and that will be reviewed," he said.
Carmant said he was assured Wednesday that the child would be "evaluated."
Christine Labrie, a Quebec solidaire member of the legislature, told Carmant that the province's youth protection agency dismissed the report from the daycare the same day it was received, "even though it would have taken at least a medical examination to verify if the educators' concerns were founded."
"We're talking about a possible genital mutilation. It's extremely serious. This is a file that should have been at the top of the pile, not in the recycling bin," she said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2023.
The Canadian Press