Female Genital Mutilation in America

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  1. wilderness profile image95
    wildernessposted 6 years ago

    According to the article here, a Michigan doctor has been arrested and charged with the genital mutilation (18 U.S.C. 116) of two young girls, making false statements and other crimes.  The "surgery" was apparently carried out in a Detroit clinic.

    Seems like a truly monumental battle over parental rights, religious rights and even circumcision is in the making.  Comments?

    http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/new … talia.html

    1. Credence2 profile image78
      Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

      "Female genital mutilation of minors is illegal in the U.S. unless there's a legitimate health reason"

      I stand behind this, parents should be prosecuted for child abuse and the good doctor subject to arrest.

      Perhaps we have found a topic, the outcome of which, we agree upon?

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Oh, I think we agree.  I'm just interested in what you might think about possible upcoming battles as religious freedom, parental rights (Idaho failed to pass a law requiring medical attention as necessary for children) and male mutilation might be brought into the fight.

        Considering circumcision is quite legal, why not female (from a legal standpoint, not so much an ethical or religious one). 

        Don't parents have the right to raise their kids to the "best" of their ability?  When society is so obviously "wrong" don't their wishes take priority?

        And finally, the biggest of all - religious freedom.  Don't know that that's what this episode was about, but believe it is required in some religions?  Are we prepared to say our law takes priority over God's?

        1. Marisa Wright profile image90
          Marisa Wrightposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          The reason female circumcision is illegal and male circumcision isn't, is that one is mutilation and the other isn't.

          Male circumcision involves removing a flap of skin which the man can easily live without.   Done properly, it has no lasting ill-effects -- and in fact some people maintain it's healthier (I have no opinion either way).   The big objection to male circumcision is because in some religions, it's done by unqualified people, in a non-sterile environment and with no pain relief.

          Female circumcision involves cutting off the clitoris completely - which is the equivalent of having your penis cut off.  Since most of the nerve endings in female genitals are in the clitoris, it means the woman may never be able to have an orgasm.  Sometimes the labia are cut off too, and the opening sewn up, leaving only a small hole to pee through.  When the woman gets married, the opening is ritually cut open again.

          There are lots of situations in secular society where our law takes precedence over God's  An eye for an eye, and many other rules from the old testament.

          1. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            That leaves one major problem to go, even assuming that everyone will agree that circumcision is not mutilation and that man's desires take priority over God's law.  Neither is going to happen, although as far as I'm concerned circumcision is no different than any other plastic surgery to change our natural appearance and man's desires and laws always trump God's.

            I just think that these arguments are going to be raised in any court case, and they will be difficult to refute.

        2. Credence2 profile image78
          Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

          Interesting point, Wilderness,
          But I will cling to the idea as stated in the law and extend it to boys and girls (minors), any genital mutilation for other than health reasons is against the law, the key issue is "health". Any other reason makes it no different than the issue of female circumcision.

          Here is a general definition as to the difference between the two and how we can make the distinction in law.
          Male circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin that covers the glans or head of the penis. Generally this procedure is performed in the hospital shortly after birth, but it can also take place as part of a religious or cultural ceremony after an infant boy leaves the hospital. In addition, some adult men are circumcised for medical, hygienic, or aesthetic reasons. While male circumcision has been uncommon in Asia, South America, Central America, and most of Europe, it is practiced nearly universally in Middle Eastern countries, and is still is fairly common in Canada and in the United States. In the States, it is estimated that 1.2 million infant boys are circumcised annually.

          Female circumcision is a ritual cutting or alteration of the female genitalia and is most often performed on girls between the ages of four and ten years for cultural or religious reasons. It is commonly performed by community members designated for the ritual, who are otherwise medically untrained individuals. The worldwide norm for FGM is that it takes place in unsanitary conditions with rudimentary instruments (e.g. razor blades, broken glass, and/or knives) and without anesthesia. Although FGM continues primarily in African nations and small communities in the Middle East and Asia, it is prohibited by law in many countries around the world.

          Parents do not own children, per se. They are  not property. The point you bring up has been debated often. Can a parent deny children medical treatment because of some religious dogma? I am of the opinion  that even parents cannot do just any thing with their children if it threatens their health and well being.

          1. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            "I am of the opinion  that even parents cannot do just any thing with their children if it threatens their health and well being."

            And yet...when a bill was introduced in my state to make with holding of life saving medical attention a crime it was defeated in deference to parental and religious rights.  That I very highly disagree somehow failed to make it a law, that one couple had a second child die shortly before the vote for lack of simple care didn't help either.  Apparently at least some legislators feel that children are chattel, owned by their parents, to do with as they see fit.

            But I'm a little confused as to your opinion on circumcision; is the male surgery also considered mutilation and not to be allowed, in your opinion?

            1. Credence2 profile image78
              Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

              If it being done merely for aesthetic reasons or following a religious dogma, yes. But there are valid medical and maybe a bit less valid hygienic reasons for the procedure. None of those factors are involved in female circumcision. It is designed to take something from girls and young women and not be beneficial.

              1. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                No disagreement at all with female "circumcision".  But male - I don't see it as any different than a nose job or other plastic surgery.  Whether the excuse is religious, aesthetic or just common practice, it's OK with me.

                1. Credence2 profile image78
                  Credence2posted 6 years agoin reply to this

                  I have to be consistent, the practice of male circumcision goes back to biblical days. Since my religion is no better than the religion of those that see female circumcision as an acceptable practice, this becomes a subjective argument over religion rather than a factual one based on health and medical necessity. I guess it comes down to the issue that the medical validity of any such procedure be it  plastic surgery, circumcision and such is to do no harm.

                  1. wilderness profile image95
                    wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                    And male circumcision does no harm.  That's my position, pretty much, and whether religious beliefs dictate it or not is irrelevant. 

                    Female circumcision does do harm, and thus the religious aspect, or parental one, is irrelevant - it must not be done.  IMO.  Wish I thought there is no chance the court would take another stance.

            2. Marisa Wright profile image90
              Marisa Wrightposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              That's very sad to hear.   If legislators consider a parent's religious views are more important than a child's life, then why would they baulk at allowing parents to disfigure their daughters and cause them lifelong disability and pain?   

              Legalising male cirumcision allows it to be done under proper surgical supervision, and that means there are no negative consequences.  Unfortunately the same cannot be said for female circumcision - because of the nature of what's removed, it is always disfiguring and damaging.

              I suppose some religious nuts would say it's a good thing because their daughters aren't supposed to get any pleasure from sex, they're just supposed to grit their teeth and do their duty.

              1. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                That's the thing that really bothers me.  There really are people in this country that will use such "reasoning" to mutilate their daughters, and the law just could let them get away with it.  Time after time after time. 

                I can see all three of those "reasons" being used to legally allow such actions in spite of the federal law listed in the OP.  All it would take, for instance, is a very loose definition of separation of church and state.

    2. Live to Learn profile image61
      Live to Learnposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Leave it to a man to tie this brutality in with circumcision. Young girls whose genitalia are mutilated can never fully enjoy sex. That's the point of that barbarity. Circumcision does not have the same effect and it does carry some health benefits.

      Edit. Didn't see where Marisa had already pointed out this obvious flaw in your argument. Never mind.

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        What - do you really think the defense won't bring it up? 

        As far as my argument, I didn't make one.  Are you confusing a desire to discuss the inevitable defense claims that will come out of the trial with a stance on my part?  I was sure I made it clear that they were not MY claims, but what we can expect to hear in court, and interested in what we might supply as a rebuttal to such ridiculous claims as "Parents have the right as it is their child", or "It's no different than circumcision in males".  Marissa gave a good argument, IMO, on the circumcision, but failed on the "God's law" area - to simply say man trumps God will not satisfy any believer.

        I'm rather disappointed to you've fallen to the level of denigration based on sex, though.  Or is it only men that have the ability to predict what a legal defense might enjoin, and be concerned as to how to protect our children from such legal shenanigans?

      2. Aime F profile image74
        Aime Fposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        I, as a woman, think it's not a far jump to male circumcision.  I'd say FGM is definitely more harmful but male circumcision is not without any and its acceptance should be re-evaluated in my opinion. 

        The health benefits are negligible in the developed world and much of them can be avoided by proper cleaning or wearing a condom anyway, is that really worth removing part of a baby's genitals?

        Circumcision was also intended to reduce masturbation, which I don't think really worked, but the whole point was to reduce pleasure.  It does also reduce sensitivity and a certain amount of sexual stimulus - again, this doesn't completely ruin sex for men (obviously) but it does take something away.

        Anyway, I didn't see anything wrong with wilderness pointing out that FGM might cause people to take a look at male circumcision too - questioning it is actually a really good idea as far as I'm concerned. 

        And I think that's the point of the thread. How much harm is acceptable/how much should be left up to the parents? Which reasoning is okay and which isn't?

    3. Don W profile image82
      Don Wposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Yes, the main defense of this barbarism would undoubtedly be freedom of religion. And yes circumcision would likely be thrown into the mix as part of that defense. As others have said though, FGM is worse than circumcision in that it's about controlling what women can experience with their own bodies, in a way that circumcision is not.

      My personal view is that irreparably harming a child's body in any way, for any reason, other than a medical one, is child abuse.

      I believe a child's right not to be mutilated, outweighs a parent's right to practice religion. Put another way: a parent's right to freedom of religion ends, where a child's right not to have their body mutilated begins.

      If someone chooses to have themselves mutilated as an informed and consenting adult, for the sake of their religion, that's up to them. But I think mutilating someone who, by virtue of their age, is unable to give their consent, is unethical.

      And I really think this is something secular society needs to start pushing back on. "God told me to do it" should not be an accepted excuse for people to do whatever they want to children.

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        I think nearly everyone on these forums will agree that FGM (of children) is not acceptable in a civilized socity.

        The problem is that a judge is not supposed to use his opinion or ethics to judge cases, and neither is a jury (although they both do).  That leaves the question up to whether or not that judge/jury will ignore the law, and that just isn't good enough.  We already have a law, 18 U.S.C. 116, but the concern is that it isn't enough when put up against freedom of religion and parental rights, not to speak of the mutilation of male circumcision.  It will require, IMO, a fundamental shift away from the idea that God's law trumps mans, and away from absolute parental rights.  Both are being fought as we speak, and both are both winning and losing - losing this one is unthinkable.

        1. SmartAndFun profile image96
          SmartAndFunposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          FGM is basically torture; FGM is usually carried out without anesthesia. It is barbaric, incredibly painful, disfiguring and debilitating, causing lifelong health problems -- many of them quite serious.

          In the U.S., an argument for parental or religious rights will not hold up in court, IMHO. (I am not a lawyer.) There is plenty of precedent in place in which parents were not given the right to physically abuse their children or give consent to have their children physically abused. Child abuse laws could even be used to find a person guilty of this crime -- specific FGM laws in place may not even be necessary.

          I do not think anyone prosecuted for practicing FGM would ever get off by citing religious freedom, as the practice inflicts so much injury to the victim, no judge or jury would tolerate it. Additionally, as I understand it, it can be argued that there is no religion which requires girls to undergo FGM; it is considered a cultural practice more so than a religious one, although religious leaders within those cultures often push the practice.

          Any judge In the U.S. who knows even a small bit about what is going on with this issue, or who has seen a few seconds of one of the graphic videos of this barbaric practice being carried out, is going to rule against any parent or religion practicing or pushing FGM. The videos are so horrific, disgusting and difficult to watch. I can't bear to imagine a child being put through such physical and emotional torture; that it actually happens to girls every day sickens me. Parental and religious rights will lose in court when it comes to this issue, at least in the U.S.

          Judges in the USA will face huge backlash if they don't rule in favor of the state/victims on this issue; I don't think there's anything to worry about on that front. My concern with this issue is not judges interpreting the law to allow FGM, but rather the intense pressure parents in some communities feel to have their girl children undergo these barbaric procedures. Parents and those who do the slicing and sewing will just become more secretive in having FGM carried out. We have to find a way to get through to people who believe FGM is necessary and acceptable, so that there is no longer demand for it.

          1. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            Your whole argument here seems to be an emotional one: it is a terrible practice and therefore judges will ignore the law and rule against it.  At the same time you comment that "religious leaders ... often push the practice." while saying it is not a religious practice; this, too, seems an argument without basis (legally), for if religious leaders push it then by definition it is a religious practice.

            If you didn't see the post, my state is allowing parents to kill their children through lack of medical care in the name of religious freedom.  This is indicative of just how seriously we take both parental and religious rights. I just think it's too easy to simply say that judges that care will rule against the law, that it will take care of itself.  It won't and it isn't - increasing populations immigrating from areas where it is common will see to that.

            1. SmartAndFun profile image96
              SmartAndFunposted 6 years agoin reply to this

              There is legal precedent regarding FGM being considered child abuse. I'm not commenting upon what is happening in your state regarding medical neglect.

              1. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                Absolutely there is precedent; the federal law in the OP shows that.  There is also federal law permitting gay marriage and states continue to prohibit it.  There is federal law permitting abortions and states do their best to prohibit that.  There is constitutional law permitting gun ownership and the federal govt. does it's best to prohibit that.

                A never ending cycle of doing our best to weasel around the law, and I fully expect to see the same here.  Are we strong enough to demand that religious freedom take second place?  Stay tuned...

                1. SmartAndFun profile image96
                  SmartAndFunposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                  Again, just my opinion, but I believe the FGM issue is more black and white than some of these other more nuanced issues. I think defense attorneys, of course, will try to use religious freedom and/or parental rights as a defense, but personally I will be shocked if they are successful. My opinion is based up legal precedent and knowing that this is currently a hot-button issue which is more obvious than some others. Judges interpret the law; my belief is they will interpret the law on the side of the state/victims in these cases.

                  When a judge rules a clear case of FGM as legal due to either religious freedom or parental rights, come back and let me know. At that point I will eat crow ad say my "mea culpas."

                2. Don W profile image82
                  Don Wposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                  I think you raise a valid point about the wider issue.

                  No one can reasonably argue FGM does not cause harm. Can anyone reasonably argue that causing a child to die by refusing medical treatment on religious grounds does not cause harm?

                  Yet unlike FGM, which is a federal crime, 34 states and DC, have "religious exemptions to criminal child abuse and neglect statutes, including at least six that have exemptions to manslaughter laws"(1).

                  So mutilating a child (for whatever reason) is a federal crime, but neglecting, abusing, or causing a child's death, is acceptable in some states if it's done for religious reasons. How can that be?

                  This is where the secular community needs to draw a line and push back. I don't care what hocus-pocus people believe. They don't have the right to inflict harm on their children because of those beliefs.

                  And aren't such exemptions unconstitutional under the equal protection clause? Child neglect and abuse laws are their to protect children. If you exempt certain parents from those laws on religious grounds, then aren't the children of those parents receiving unequal protection from the law?

                  (1) http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/20 … lect-laws/

                  1. wilderness profile image95
                    wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

                    The whole child protection thing is very shaky, seems to me.  We have CPS on the one hand, putting children into the foster system and almost guaranteeing they will never succeed.  And on the other we have legislatures allowing children to die in God's name because Mommy knows best what God wants.

                    This may be the case the breaks the camel's back - the one where reason and caring finally replace parental and religious rights as the primary source of child care.

  2. colorfulone profile image80
    colorfuloneposted 6 years ago

    “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 acting Assistant Attorney General of the justice department’s criminal division, Kenneth Blanco, said April 13.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government … utilation/

    The establishment media is hiding the dramatic news that President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice has announced a national campaign to eradicate the imported practice of Female Genital Mutilation.
    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government … utilation/

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Wonder which way the ACLU will jump...


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