Saturday, April 13, 2019

Judge says FGM is not a Federal Crime

This story touched a lot of different controversial topics: conservative judicial attempts to limit federal legislative authority, immigrant and religious refusal to hew to American standards, women's rights and feminism, double standards around FGM and male circumcision, and even American civil rights history where the federal government turned a blind eye to racist malfeasance in various states, claiming that it was the state's responsibility to bring charges, not the federal government's. 

Detroit — Federal prosecutors will not appeal a judge's order dismissing female genital mutilation charges in the first criminal case of its kind nationwide, concluding the law is weak and needs to be rewritten. The decision delivers a setback to international human-rights groups opposed to female genital mutilation that have closely followed a case that has raised awareness in the U.S. of a controversial procedure and prompted Michigan to enact new state laws criminalizing the procedure. 

"Although the department has determined not to appeal the district court's decision, it recognizes the severity of the charged conduct, its lifelong impact on victims, and the importance of a federal prohibition on FGM committed on minors," Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a letter to Congress on Wednesday.

The decision comes six months after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman delivered a significant, but not fatal, blow to a novel criminal prosecution involving a team of Metro Detroit doctors accused of mutilating the genitalia of nine girls at a Livonia clinic since 2015. Friedman concluded the law is unconstitutional and concluded Congress had no authority to enact a law criminalizing female genital mutilation.  LINK

Although I think that in this case the judge was wrong, I also believe that liberals, among whom I still count myself, will have to realize that both for practical reasons and judicial ones, that they will have more success getting things done via state laws. The judiciary is slowly being transformed into a Federalist Society club. It is also interesting that while I find FGM abhorrent, even the name is something that adherents would presumably find grossly unfair. 

To them it would be stacking the deck. I mean who really is going to raise their hands and say they are in favor of genital mutilation? They have what they see as strong valid cultural and religious reasons to engage in the practice they call slicing.

Just as in America we find this practice disgusting and often outlaw it, in Europe there are people who find the practice of male circumcision and/or kosher/halal slaughter equally disgusting and attempt to outlaw them. This has of course led to charges of Islamophobia or Anti-Semitism. Some right-wingers are indeed using concerns over different cultural practices as a stalking horse to stigmatize people they never wanted in their country in the first place. I don't really think that's what's happening in the Michigan situation but then again reading the comment sections of this story as it's been covered might prove me wrong. In thirty or forty years maybe Americans will feel the same way about male circumcision as we currently do about FGM.

The bottom line is that there must be some common things in society on which almost everyone accepts. In America, removing or slicing clitorises should be something that everyone agrees is wrong. If you feel otherwise there are scores of other countries which might be more to your liking.
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