Michigan Case Adds U.S. Dimension to Debate on Genital Mutilation

NYT Op ED:

The arrest of 3 doctors in Michigan for performing female genital mutilation prompted Tasneem Raja, 34, a journalist, to write about being cut in New Jersey. She said she had received “an outpouring of emails from people saying thank you.”

“This Michigan case made me think I want to speak out,” said Nazia Mirza, 34, who was cut at age 6 in her hometown, Houston. “To me it’s very much like a rape survivor. If you don’t say anything, then how are you going to expose it and bring awareness?”

But Ms. Raja said the case was exposing a spectrum of feelings. Even among Bohra women who oppose cutting, she said, views range from “women who say this has greatly impacted their sex life and their ability to enjoy sex, to people like me who walked away with lifelong emotional trauma, to people who say, ‘I don’t see what the big deal is.’”

CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds

November 3, 2013

 

Doctors were asked to torture detainees for intelligence gathering, and unethical practices continue, review concludes Doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession under instruction from the defence department and the CIA to become involved in the torture and degrading treatment of suspected terrorists, an investigation has concluded.

The report of the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres concludes that after 9/11, health professionals working with the military and intelligence services “designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees”.

Medical professionals were in effect told that their ethical mantra “first do no harm” did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill.

The report lays blame primarily on the defence department (DoD) and the CIA, which required their healthcare staff to put aside any scruples in the interests of intelligence gathering and security practices that caused severe harm to detainees, from waterboarding to sleep deprivation and force-feeding.

The CIA’s office of medical services played a critical role in advising the justice department that “enhanced interrogation” methods, such as extended sleep deprivation and waterboarding, which are recognised as forms of torture, were medically acceptable. CIA medical personnel were present when waterboarding was taking place, the taskforce says.

Although the DoD has taken steps to address concerns over practices at Guantánamo Bay in recent years, and the CIA has said it no longer has suspects in detention, the taskforce says that these “changed roles for health professionals and anaemic ethical standards” remain.

“The American public has a right to know that the covenant with its physicians to follow professional ethical expectations is firm regardless of where they serve,” said Dr Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University and member of the taskforce.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/04/cia-doctors-torture-suspected-terrorists-9-11

Muslim family challenges ‘do not resuscitate’ ruling over gravely ill man

November 9, 2013

 

A court will this week decide whether a seriously ill Muslim man should not be revived if his condition deteriorates – against the wishes of his family, who say it is God’s will that doctors must do all they can to keep him alive. The case, which will be seen in some quarters as a clash between the state and religion, is the first of its kind to deliver a judgment following a supreme court ruling last month that found doctors were right to withdraw treatment from a man in Liverpool.

The Muslim man, who has been in hospital for five-and-a-half months since suffering a heart attack, is barely conscious. The NHS trust in charge of the hospital where he is being cared for, and which cannot be named for legal reasons, argues that to revive him is not in the man’s best interests if his condition worsens.

The case will be studied closely by all faith groups, especially those who believe in a literal interpretation of scripture that, they claim, determines religious law must take precedence over law made by statute.

There have been legal challenges by Christian groups brought against right-to-die campaigners but this is the first challenge against a Do Not Resuscitate order following a ruling last month in the supreme court which said that appeal judges were right to allow doctors to withhold treatment from David James, a “gravely ill” man from Liverpool who died last December.

A verdict this week against the family is likely to dismay some Muslim groups. But, equally, many doctors’ groups are likely to resent any ruling that sees religious views take precedence. It is likely that either side could appeal if the ruling goes against them.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/nov/09/muslim-family-do-not-resuscitate-challenge-liverpool

Islam, a Florentine woman forced to use the veil and beaten by her husband

In 2010, after having embraced the Islamic faith, she flew to Egypt where she married a man she met only a few months earlier. A husband, 33 year-old Egyptian man, who turned out to have an abusive side, this side which slowly became a river of aggression. Until last Sunday, August 25 when the woman, 30 year-old Florentine, exhausted and frightened, denounced her husband due to his abuse.

Due to the beating, the women, upon arrival at the hospital had bruises on her face and legs, her ordeal had also weakened in her psyche. She was also forced to wear the veil and dress conservatively in dark colors. She lived locked in the house with the windows sealed to avoid being seen also isolating her from potential help allowing her no space or autonomy. The 33-year old husband, in recent times, was becoming more extreme. So much so that he had taken over the phone, her only contact with the outside world.

Compounding the situation was that he beat her even in front of their own children during the 6 months and two years of their relationship.

He also threatened to kill her, even threatening her own family. Her mother was also beaten and threatened with death by the North African. Despite this his in-laws gave the couple money to buy a house in the southern suburbs of the city, where the young couple lived with their children.

The woman went to the Florentine hospital saying she had back pain but then burst into tears in front of the doctors.

police officers, directed by Dr. Alexander Ausenda, approached the victim inside the hospital while her husband waited in the waiting room. Then they accompanied him to the police station. Here an agent, a woman, handcuffed and took the man to prison. The 33 year old did not speak as his his wife and children were taken to a safe house.

Italy: Circumcision, Jewish and Arab Doctors ready to cooperate

June 13, 2013

 

For the first time there is a collaboration agreement between Muslim and Jewish doctors on the topic of sanitary practices, including the practice of circumcision, a religious practice important in both Judaism and Islam. The practice is now becoming a true emergency. An ad hoc meeting led by the medical practitioners of foreigners in Italy (AMSI) comprised of a Palestinian Foad Aodi and the president of the Jewish medical practitioners Dario Perugia. A big difference between the two practices is that in Judaism the circumcision is under the control of the synagogue, however, a third of Muslims babies are operated on secretly, with a huge risk of infection and other complications.

 

“These are large numbers,” says Aodi, “because in Italy there are about 1 million 300 thousand Muslims almost all of them believe in these practices.” The Amzi is fighting for circumcision to take place in dedicated facilities within the national health service (circumcision should not to be confused, Muslim officials warn doctors, with illegal and reprehensible practices like female circumcision or female genital mutilation) “First of all, to protect the health of children,” said the President of Amzi. Secondly such facilities would remove the ‘black market’ of circumcision in Italy, with doctors who get paid a thousand Euros for a single intervention, forcing many families great sacrifice and prompting many to return to their countries of origin. The hope is to create specialized surgeries that offer the service by paying a reasonable price (up to 100 €). This is already the case in some regions, such as Emilia Romagna and Veneto. It is, however, important to standardize the rules on a national scale. “Every day we receive phone calls from desperate families who do not know where to turn,” emphasized Aodi.

Mohsin Hamid: ‘Islam is not a monolith’

There are more than a billion Muslims in the world, each with an individual view of life. So why are they viewed as a unified group, asks Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist? In 2007, the author was struck by the large number of interviewers and of audience members at Q&As who spoke of Islam as a monolithic thing, as if Islam referred to a self-contained and clearly defined world, a sort of Microsoft Windows, obviously different from, and considerably incompatible with, the Apple OS X-like operating system of “the west”. Six years on, a film inspired by the novel (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) is in the process of appearing on screens around the world, and I am pleased to report that those sorts of questions are a little rarer now than they were in 2007. This represents progress. But it is modest progress, for the sense of Islam as a monolith lingers, in places both expected and unexpected. Islam is not a race, yet Islamophobia partakes of racist characteristics. Most Muslims do not “choose” Islam in the way that they choose to become doctors or lawyers or even in the way that they choose to become fans of Coldplay or Radiohead. Most Muslims, like people of any faith, are born into their religion. They then evolve their own relationship with it, their own, individual, view of life, their own micro-religion, so to speak. There are more than a billion variations of lived belief among people who define themselves as Muslim – one for each human being, just as there are among those who describe themselves as Christian, or Buddhist, or Hindu. Islamophobia represents a refusal to acknowledge these variations, to acknowledge individual humanities, a desire to paint members of a perceived group with the same brush. In that sense, it is indeed like racism. It simultaneously credits Muslims with too much and too little agency: too much agency in choosing their religion, and too little in choosing what to make of it. The novel carefully separates the politics of self-identification from any underlying religious faith or spirituality. It sets out to show that the former can exist in the absence of the latter. Yet we tend to read the world otherwise, to imagine computer-software-like religious operating systems where perhaps none exist. And in so doing, it is we who create the monolith. If we look at religion as practised in the world outside, we see multiplicity. It is from inside us that the urge to unify arises.

Muslims, our neighbors (Spain)

26 May 12

The Muslim community in the Murcia region consists of more than 90,000 citizens coming from the most varied backgrounds and sharing a desire: to improve their level of integration. This is one of the conclusions reached by the official of the Municipality of Murcia, Teresa Martin Melgarejo, one of the most active Murcian citizen working at social networks and civic organizations, and who has spent the last two years of her life living with a collective, socially stigmatized community in Spain. The result is a photographic work, entitled ‘Muslims, our neighbors’, and coordinated by Monica Lozano, Professor of Photojournalism at the University of Murcia, who has earned, by popular vote, the first prize of the first Festival of Photography organized by the Cienojos Collective and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Apart from worshipers in mosques, Teresa Martin has portrayed the leaders of Islamic communities, young Spanish speakers learning Arabic, traders in the district of San Andrés, doctors in hospitals and health centers, cultural mediators, butchers, cooks, pharmacists, nurses, journalists, lawyers, farmers, housewives … Curiously she also discovered Muslims who do not practice their religion. “An estimated 18% of the so-called second-generation Muslims born in Spain do not practice their religion. “

Muslim Medical Students Boycott Lectures on Evolution

28.11.2011
An increasing number of Muslim biology and medical students as well as trainee doctors at the University College London (UCL) are boycotting lectures on evolution, claiming they clash with ideas established in the Quran. As the Daily Mail reports, similar to the beliefs expressed by fundamentalist Christians, Muslim opponents to Darwinism maintain that Allah created the world, mankind, and all known species. Yet, Professors at UCL are increasingly concerned about the students’ boycott of lectures, as Darwinist theory forms an important part of the syllabus.

Doctors in the Netherlands Call for Debate over Male Circumcision

15 September 2011

The Dutch federation of doctors (KNMG) is calling for explicit statements opposing male circumcision. The KNMG suggests that the “ritual practice” is “medically irresponsible…between five and 15 percent of cases lead to later complications”. Muslim and Jewish populations have released statements against the ban, with the union of Moroccan mosques explaining that “circumcision is a precept of our faith, which we want to continue observing”.

Taboos and Fear among German Muslim Girls

Young Muslim women are often forced to lead double lives in Europe. They have sex in public restrooms and stuff mobile phones in their bras to hide their secret existences from strict families. They are often forbidden from visiting gynaecologists or receiving sex ed. In the worst cases, they undergo hymen reconstruction surgery, have late-term abortions or even commit suicide.

Hardly any other issue is as fraught with prohibition and fear among Germany’s Muslim immigrants as sex. Many Muslim families adhere to moral values from a pre-modern era, and the separation of the sexes affects almost all aspects of daily life. At the same time, young female immigrants are faced with the temptations of a free life unrestrained by religious and cultural traditions. Their daily lives are a constant tug-of-war between two value systems.

Many of them suffer from this contradiction, and some crack under the strain. Doctors and social workers report on desperate young women coming to them with requests to reconstruct the hymen or perform late-term abortions. The elevated risk of suicide among young immigrant women even prompted Berlin’s Charité Hospital to establish a suicide prevention initiative for women from Turkish immigrant families. In a multi-year study, the group hopes to discover why the suicide rate within this population is apparently twice as high as it is among ethnic German women of the same age.

The consequences of living this double life have been poorly studied. Almost no governmental and non-governmental organizations, from family and education ministries to immigration authorities and self-help groups, can offer reliable figures or well-founded conclusions on the issue.