A Detroit-area doctor charged with performing genital mutilation on two 7-year-old girls denied the allegations through her lawyer Monday, insisting that she conducted a benign religious ritual for families of a Muslim sect.
It’s the first time someone has been charged with violating a U.S. ban on genital mutilation.
Shannon Smith, defense lawyer of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, explanation emerged during a hearing to determine whether Nagarwala would stay locked up without bond, following her arrest last week. After hearing arguments, a judge said she was a threat to the public and refused to release her.
“They were the last in a long line of children cut by the defendant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward said of the two girls who were accompanied to the Livonia clinic by their mothers.
November 15, 2013
A BBC investigation has revealed concerns that young girls are being brought to Scotland to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) because the country is seen as a “soft touch”. Agencies claim that families from England and Europe have travelled to Scotland to have their daughters cut. They also said girls living in Glasgow and Edinburgh have undergone FGM in Scotland and the problem is increasing.
UK legislation to criminalise FGM was introduced in 1985 but since then there has not been a single prosecution. Scottish legislation in 2005 made it illegal to take girls abroad to conduct the practice. New Scottish government figures, seen by the BBC, revealed that between 1997 and 2011, 2,403 girls were born in Scotland to a mother from an FGM-practicing country.
The BBC sent Freedom of Information requests about FGM to each of Scotland’s 32 local councils and 14 health boards. The majority of health boards were unable to say how many cases they had encountered. Less than a third of the 32 councils had specific local guidelines on FGM and less than 10 cases had been referred to social work.
Anela Anwar, of Scottish charity Roshni, said: “Because Scotland has been lacking somewhat in a prosecutions, families are coming up from England and Wales into Scotland to have the practice carried out and that is certainly concerning if Scotland is now being viewed as a place that doesn’t take the issue of female genital mutilation seriously.”
Fatou Baldeh, of the Dignity Alert and Research Forum (DARF) in Edinburgh said: “The UK is behind and among the UK, Scotland is very poor in tackling FGM and supporting victims.”
She added: “Because it’s getting expensive to take a daughter back home and circumcise or mutilate them, women are putting together money and bringing over someone who can cut the girls and it’s cheaper.”
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) set up a national FGM helpline this year, and over the course of the first three months, there were 102 calls relating to girls at risk of FGM.
Tackling FGM in the UK: Intercollegiate recommendations for identifying, recording and reporting
RCM, RCN, RCOG, Equality Now, UNITE (2013) Tackling
FGM in the UK: Intercollegiate Recommendations for
identifying, recording, and reporting. London: Royal
College of Midwives.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: http://www.rcog.org.uk/news/intercollegiate-group-draws-ground-breaking-recommendations-tackling-female-genital-mutilation
November 3, 2013
Thousands of girls in danger of genital mutilation are being failed by the health and justice systems, a coalition of health professionals has warned in a report that recommends aggressive steps to eradicate the practice in the UK. Female genital mutilation (FGM) should be treated the same as any other kind of child abuse and evidence of it must be reported to the police, according to the report. Janet Fyle, a policy adviser of the Royal College of Midwives and one of the report’s authors, said that just as it was inconceivable that a health worker would not report evidence of child abuse to the police, it should be equally important to report evidence of FGM.
According to the report more than 66,000 women in England and Wales have undergone FGM and more than 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of it. Despite its regular occurrence, FGM has not resulted in a prosecution in Britain, whereas in France there have been about 100.
FGM is carried out in Africa and the Middle East by Muslims and non-Muslims. It predates Islam and is not called for in the Qur’an although it mostly occurs in countries that became Islamic. In countries such as Somalia and Egypt more than 90% of women have undergone some kind of FGM but it is also common in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali and Sierra Leone. Although FGM has been outlawed in the UK since 1985, migrants from countries where FGM is common have continued the practice here or by taking girls to their home countries for it to be performed. Since 2003, Britons can be prosecuted for acts of FGM abroad.
The report recommends that health workers identify girls at risk and treat them as if they were at risk of child abuse. Girls at risk are defined as girls born to a woman who has undergone FGM or a child who lives closely with someone who has. The report clearly emphasises the importance of an individual’s safety over the respect for religious and racial sensibilities, a point welcomed by Shaista Gohir, the chairwoman of the Muslim Women’s Network.
Sarian Karim, a 36-year-old community worker from Peckham, south London, who suffered FGM as an 11-year-old in Sierra Leone, welcomed the report. “FGM is a normal thing for us. We don’t know it is against the law, but I know that it damages girls and leaves them scarred for life – mentally and physically. “It is very important that everyone knows that FGM is illegal. We suffer from a lot of complications [because of the procedure]. “We want those people who work in schools to have guidelines and be able to inform, prepare and protect children.”
The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/04/uk-mutilation-girls-report
Haunted by experience of genital mutilation at four, Somali former supermodel Waris Dirie opens Berlin centre that offers remonstrative surgery to circumcised women and girls
Somali-born activist and former supermodel Waris Dirie on Wednesday opens a centre in Germany to treat victims of female genital mutilation, which she was subjected to as a child.
About 8,000 young girls are circumcised every day in Africa and the Middle East, and the Desert Flower Medical Center, located in a Berlin hospital, will offer reconstructive surgery and psychological help to those among the 50,000 girls and women in Germany who need it.
The German author and visual artist of Turkish origin Feridun Zaimoglu speaks about circumcision in an interview with Qantara. He talks about the general feeling of fear towards Muslims. Another point he underlines is the need to differentiate between genital mutilation and circumcision when talking about Muslim rituals. He declared that censorship on religion and religious is often used by so-called Liberals in order to become popular. “The secular State becomes ridiculous”, he claimed. The State often encourages gossipers and radicals who mask themselves as culture warriors and humanists but are unable to express humanity.
The National Post – February 21, 2012
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada is calling for a cultural change in attitudes toward female genital mutilation, a practice it calls a human rights violation. The society has reaffirmed its stance on the practice in a new policy statement published in the February 2012 edition of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.
“As women of reproductive age immigrate in great numbers to Canada, Canadian health professionals will likely be faced with more requests for procedures involving female genital cutting or for treatment due to a (female genital mutilation) procedure they were subjected to in the past,” said Dr. Vyta Senikas, acting executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and a principal co-author of the policy statement.
The ministry of justice confirmed on Wednesday that serious consideration was being given to the establishment of a new category of aggravating circumstances targeting “religiously motivated violence.” Aggravating circumstances can be crucial during sentencing procedures, where they can play a role in leading to the stricter punishments. Though the ministry denies a direct connection, this question has come about following the controversial sentencing of a man of Turkish origin in mid-January. On account of his personal background and traditions, the man was sentenced to attempted manslaughter and not attempted murder in the case of his near fatal knife attack on his wife, who had told him that she wanted a divorce.
The general secretary of the ÖVP (conservative), Fritz Kaltenegger, declared that violence in the family must be dealt with severely, and that “it is the task of politics to adapt the legal framework to social developments.” The minister of justice, Claudia Bandion-Ortner, was careful to stress that this development was not to be understood as a continuation of the debate on “cultural crimes,” begun two years ago by the interior minister, Maria Fekter. Thus, Bandion-Ortner continued, there is no plan to adopt new sentencing guidelines for forced mariages or honor killings: “murder is still murder, and more than a life sentence cannot be imposed.” Nevertheless, she did mention that an additional category of aggravating circumstances may be forthcoming, aimed at “general behavior which attempts to impose upon someone a lifestyle that is not consistent with our society.” This would apply, for example, to parents who refuse to send their children to public school, or who do not allow girls contact with men, out of religious considerations.
Criticism of the proposal has come from legal experts, the SPÖ (social democrat) and the Greens, the Catholic church and Muslim groups. Helmut Fuchs, head of the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Vienna, called the idea absolutely unnecessary, while saying that “non-religiously motivated violence is no less reprehensible than religiously motivated violence.” The minister for women and public service, Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, gave voice to her displeasure at the mixing of religion and criminal law, stating that crimes such as genital mutilation or honor killings had less to do with religion than with tradition and power structures. Erich Leitenberger of the archdiocese of Vienna echoed this position with his view that such “dubious cultural practices” had nothing to do with religion. Meanwhile, Carla Amina Baghajati, spokesperson for the Austrian Islamic Community, stated that violence against women can be fought with Islamic sources as well, and can be part of the solution – as was the case in the fight against female genital mutilation. She continued by saying that legitimizing these practices as “religious” could contribute to the problem, and proposed instead the adoption of the internationally established notion of “harmful traditional practices.”
A 30 year old Dutch man of Moroccan is on trial for genitally cutting his six year old daughter. The public prosecution has requested the sentence saying that the girl has been permanently mutilated by the man. The charges came after the girl told foster parents that her father cut her. Female circumcision is a criminal offence in the Netherlands, but victims often remain hidden, because the cutting takes place in a closed family setting.
The accused man denies the charges and pleads not guilty. His defense lawyer sees the five-year-old daughter’s statement as highly questionable and has applied for a second opinion from a legal psychologist. The girl and her sister have been taken into care.
In coverage of the case Radio Netherlands Worldwide includes a discussion with cultural anthropologist and midwife Dineke Korfker, who says that female circumcision is not originally a Muslim practice. “People often see it as being Islamic and think it’s prescribed by the religion, but the highest Islamic body, the Al-Azhar University in Egypt, has officially distanced itself from the practice and calls on people not to do it.” Korfker also notes that the practice is not found in Morocco.
A verdict for the case, and possible sentencing, is due on September 17
Female genital mutilation, commonly associated with parts of Africa and the Middle East, is becoming a growing problem in Britain despite efforts to stamp it out. London’s Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest police force, hopes a campaign beginning on Wednesday will highlight that the practice is a crime here. To make their point, police are offering a $40,000 reward for information leading to Britain’s first prosecution for female genital mutilation, Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Jeffrey said. In Britain, the problem mostly involves first-generation immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. Police say they don’t have comprehensive statistics about the number of victims. But midwife Comfort Momoh, who specializes in treating them at London hospitals and clinics and who works with police, told the news conference she treats 400 to 500 victims every year.