Friday, April 28, 2017

Michigan Doctors Charged with FGM

Every culture and religion has slight to extreme different ideas about right and wrong. In most cases these differences of opinion are minor. People avoid discussing them. Or if the subject can't be dismissed people often take a live and let live attitude. In other instances though these different concepts simply can't exist in the same polity. One side must win. One side must lose. An example of this sort of dispute is the ugly practice of Female Genital Mutilation, which may involve a number of different cuttings to young girls' genitalia, whether it be snipping of the labia, cutting or total removal of the clitoris or narrowing/tying of the vaginal opening. It differs from culture to culture. But in Western culture, specifically American culture, this practice is looked upon with horror and outlawed. But as greater numbers of people arrive in America from areas where this custom is normal there will be more conflicts between those who are convinced they are living up to their religious and cultural requirements by having their young girls cut and those who seek to stamp out something they see as a horrific infringement on a girl's body. Two Southeast Michigan doctors were arrested for performing a banned procedure on two seven year old girls from Minnesota. The doctors, at least one of whom is an American citizen, are apparently both South Asian descent Shiite Muslims from a sect known as Dawoodi Bohra. If the case goes to trial it will be the first ever federal trial for FGM in the United States.


(CNN)A 7-year-old girl who underwent a painful genital mutilation procedure told federal investigators that after a doctor completed the process, she was rewarded with a piece of cake for "doing good."
Court documents obtained by CNN contain that account, along with other details in the cases of three medical professionals now facing charges in the first federal female genital mutilation case in the United States. The father of the girl -- one of two 7-year-olds who underwent the procedure on the same day -- told investigators, "that if they knew what would come of it, this would never have happened," according to the documents.

The documents identify the parents, but CNN is not naming them to protect the child's identity. While three medical professionals face trial in the case, no charges have been filed against the parents.
This month, two Michigan doctors and the wife of one of the doctors were charged with performing a banned female genital mutilation procedure on the two little girls, both from Minnesota.

Detroit emergency room physician Jumana Nagarwala, 44, was arrested April 12 and is in jail awaiting trial after a federal judge deemed her a flight risk and a threat to the community. Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, and his wife, Farida Attar, 50, were arrested Friday at their medical office in Livonia, Michigan, west of Detroit. They are accused of assisting Nagarwala in the procedures. Both girls, their families and the three defendants are members of the Muslim Dawoodi Bohra sect in Minnesota, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case against Nagarwala
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Dr. Nagarwala, who was arrested while trying to flee the country, has claimed that she didn't cut anyone but merely removed some skin. She has since been fired from her position at Henry Ford Hospital. Dr. Attar says he doesn't know anything. His lawyer says that the doctor is being persecuted for his faith. Everyone deserves the presumption of innocence. Time will tell what really took place. It's worthwhile here to point out that there are several Muslims of varied cultural backgrounds who are strongly opposed to FGM. FGM has less to do with religion and more with cultural stances about womens' roles. There are some women of South Asian origin who think that this whole controversy is much ado about nothing. FGM is not the same thing as male circumcision but it does raise some of the same questions about children's bodily integrity. Where do you draw the line. If we're going to get upset about the cutting of girls' genitals then should we show similar concern over the cutting of boys' genitals. I appreciate that it is very difficult to tell people that something they hold as a bedrock belief is not only wrong but profoundly harmful, criminal and stupid. The NYT public health editor Celia Dugger believes that using the words "Female Genital Mutilation" is too culturally loaded. She prefers the term "genital cutting".

I began writing about this back in 1996 when I was an immigration reporter on the Metro desk covering the asylum case of Fauziya Kassindja. I decided in the course of reporting that case — especially after a reporting trip to Togo, her home country, and the Ivory Coast — to call it genital cutting rather than mutilation. I never minced words in describing exactly what form of cutting was involved, and there are many gradations of severity, and the terrible damage it did, and stayed away from the euphemistic circumcision, but chose to use the less culturally loaded term, genital cutting. There’s a gulf between the Western (and some African) advocates who campaign against the practice and the people who follow the rite, and I felt the language used widened that chasm.

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I don't know about that. I don't think it matters what you call it as long as you impress upon people that if they do it in this country they're going to prison.  It's less important to worry about hurting someone's feelings than to make someone stop doing wrong. I believe we can all get along, to hearken back to a certain famous beating victim, but only if we agree on some baseline core beliefs. 
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