Medicare data indicates doctors are performing circumcisions on females, many under the age of five. Health authorities are claiming a computer error but an investigation by Tasha May has found alarm among community groups.
Data publicly available on Services Australia’s website records that between July 2013 to July 2021 there were 1,836 claims made under the Medicare code for the circumcision of the penis but recorded for female patients. Over half of these claims were for girls under 15 years of age.
All states and territories have enacted criminal legislation prohibiting female circumcision, known more commonly as female genital mutilation (FGM). However, Khadija Gbla, a survivor of FGM and Director of Ending FGM Australia, says it’s a fact that FGM does still occur in Australia and that a conservative estimate suggests that 11 girls a day are at risk.
Gbla said she would not be surprised if some are subsidising the practice under Medicare as “we know Medicare fraud occurs” and the high numbers of occurrence appear “too much for it to be a coincidence.”
Betul Tuna, Project Officer for the Ethnic Council of Shepparton, said that their investigation found several male circumcision clinics entertained the idea of performing the circumcision on females while other clinics directed them to home circumcision avenues.