[guest post by Dana]
This week it was reported that a female emergency room doctor was arrested for mutilating the genitals of two little girls:
A Detroit emergency room physician has been charged with allegedly performing female genital mutilation on young girls, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
In a news release, the DOJ said Jumana Nagarwala, of Northville, Michigan, allegedly performed the procedures out of a medical office in Livonia, Michigan, on girls who were 6 to 8 years old.
According to the *complaint filed, two of the parents confirmed to investigators were aware that Nagarwala did the procedure, but others denied knowledge of the procedure or said it didn’t happen.
The news release said this is believed to be the first case under law 18 U.S.C. 116, which criminalizes female genital mutilation.
“According to the complaint, despite her oath to care for her patients, Dr. Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims,” acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said. “The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse.”
The vicious brutality as told by the little girls involved in this case:
The children were told it was a “‘special’ girls trip,” according to court documents. The first victim told federal agents that she underwent a procedure “to get the germs out” of her, and she identified Nagarwala in a photograph as the doctor who performed the operation. A medical examination performed under a search warrant found that her “labia minora has been altered or removed, and her clitoral hood is also abnormal in appearance.”
The second victim who described her ordeal in the complaint said she screamed as Nagarwala gave her a “shot” that “hurt really badly.” The girl said she could “barely walk” after the procedure, and that her parents “told her that the procedure is a secret and that she is not supposed to talk about it.”
The FBI investigation is focusing on Jumana Nagarwala’s butchery of other little girls as well:
…[A]uthorities say they believe she has subjected numerous more girls to the procedure, including children in the metro Detroit area. Authorities would not comment on whether more charges are coming, but the case appears to be the tip of the iceberg if the FBI’s words are any indication.
“This investigation has identified other children who may have been victimized by Nagarwala,” FBI agent Kevin Swanson wrote in an affidavit that was unsealed Thursday. “(Investigators) interviewed several minor girls in Michigan about FGM (female genital mutilation). In these interviews, multiple minor girls informed child protective services and forensic interviewers that procedures had been performed on their genitals by Nagarwala.”
Nagarwala denies having committed these atrocities, and said that, “she had no knowledge of the procedure being performed on anyone in her cultural community.”
Most of the reports I read avoided naming any particular religion or culture that is mostly associated with the practice of FGM. The Washington Post, whose masthead smugly reminds readers that democracy dies in darkness, put it this way:
According to the complaint against Nagarwala, members of a particular religious and cultural community are known to use the procedure — which some see as a way to curb sexuality in girls. The complaint did not identify the community but said Nagarwala was a part of it.
*Complaint uploaded by Katie Pavlich here. It’s a grim read.
When one considers the increasing occurrences of FGM in the United States, it is shocking to read about a study released last year by two U.S. doctors who obscenely suggested that the way to limit the practice of FGM in the U.S. is to appease cultural demands by permitting the practice of “nicking”:
A controversial new study published in the Journal of Medical Ethics says “nicking” the genitals of young girls is an acceptable compromise for the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the West.
Arguing that criminalizing FGM in Western countries such as the U.S. and U.K. has pushed the practice underground, the authors suggest a “compromise solution” that would legally permit a minimal form of genital mutilation “in recognition of its cultural and religious obligations.” Despite being perceived as a practice linked to Islam, FGM is a cultural practice that has no basis in religion. No religious texts prescribe FGM, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while Human Rights Watch says the practice is “erroneously linked” to religion and “is not particular to any religious faith.”
In the study, published on Monday, U.S.-based authors Dr. Kavita Shah Arora, director of quality, obstetrics and gynecology at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland and Dr. Allan Jacobs, professor of reproductive medicine at Stony Brook University, write that “in order to better protect female children from the serious and long-term harms of some types of non-therapeutic [FGM], we must adopt a more nuanced position that acknowledges a wide spectrum of procedures that alter female genitalia.”
The authors define the de minimis, or minor, versions of FGM that should be permitted as “removal of the clitoral hood or a ritual nick on the external female genitalia” and do not believe they “reach the threshold of a human rights violation.” Nicking the vulva and removing the clitoral hood shouldn’t be considered child abuse, according to the authors. They go on to argue that by undergoing these acceptable procedures in the U.S., girls can avoid the risk of being sent abroad for more extensive and harmful procedures—a practice known as “vacation cutting.”
“If a girl, by undergoing a small vulvar nick in infancy, forestalls subsequent vulvar infibulation done under dangerous conditions, we would consider this a worthwhile trade-off,” the study says. The authors add that all procedures should be performed with “adequate analgesia.”
In other words, let’s practice another form of mutilation. There’s just something rich about two doctors determining what constitutes a human rights violation on little girls and deciding that another form of mutilation is okay. What the hell? How about protecting little girls from this heinous practice by aggressively pursuing any and all who commit these crimes in the U.S. where it is illegal and hold parents and doctors accountable for the severe damage they do to these little girls. Little girls who will forever carry the scars of this barbaric practice, both in their hearts and on their bodies for the rest of their lives.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)