Gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion takes a hit

A doc­tor in Michi­gan is charged with the rit­ual cut­ting of two young sis­ters

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

AMichi­gan physi­cian was charged this week with the rit­ual mu­ti­la­tion of the gen­i­tals of two sis­ters, one 6 and the other 7 years old, re­veal­ing a sor­did — and il­le­gal — prac­tice in cer­tain Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties that has put up to 500,000 young Amer­i­can girls at risk of this bar­baric mu­ti­la­tion.

Dr. Ju­mana Na­gar­wala is a na­tive of the state of Wash­ing­ton and trained in medicine at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity in Baltimore. She was charged with gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion, trans­port­ing with in­tent to en­gage in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity and mak­ing a false state­ment to fed­eral au­thor­i­ties. She could face up to life in prison if con­victed. She has de­nied ev­ery­thing.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials said the girls were told by their par­ents they were go­ing from their home in Min­nesota to Detroit “on a spe­cial girls’ trip.” When they ar­rived at the ho­tel they were taken to a doc­tor “to get the germs out of their bod­ies” and to make “a pain in their tum­mies” go away.

In­stead, they were taken to a hos­pi­tal in Livonia, Mich., where, the au­thor­i­ties said, Dr. Na­gar­wala con­ducted the pro­ce­dure. The fam­ily is from a village in west­ern In­dia, and speak the Gu­jarati dialect.

The pro­ce­dure is com­mon in many ru­ral ar­eas of Arab and African coun­tries, of­ten in Mus­lim vil­lages. The cli­toris and parts of the vulva are cut out, of­ten with­out anes­the­sia, and the open­ing of the vagina is re­duced to re­duce sex­ual plea­sure and pre­vent promis­cu­ity when the girls, of­ten mu­ti­lated as in­fants, are older. The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion says there are no health ben­e­fits for girls or women, and the cut­ting can cause in­fec­tion and in­crease the risk of com­pli­ca­tions in child­birth when they are adults.

“There’s a myth that this is only hap­pen­ing to peo­ple in In­dia or Africa,” says Shelby Quist, di­rec­tor of the women’s rights or­ga­ni­za­tion Equal­ity Now. “It’s hap­pen­ing ev­ery­where and we’re be­gin­ning to learn that.”

The fed­eral law against such mu­ti­la­tion was writ­ten 21 years ago by Harry Reid, who was then a U.S. sen­a­tor from Ne­vada and later the leader of a Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity of the Se­nate. He tells the Los Angeles Times that he was never swayed by those who de­fend the cut­ting as a cul­tural rite, and in fact the prac­tice is de­cried by mod­er­ate Mus­lims.

The U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion says it has no spe­cific count of such mu­ti­la­tions in the United States, but es­ti­mates that the num­ber has in­creased with the in­crease in immigration from cer­tain Mid­dle East and African coun­tries, in par­tic­u­lar Egypt, Ethiopia and So­ma­lia.

“Cul­ture” can never be a de­fense of bar­barism. Hu­man sac­ri­fice, for ex­am­ple, might be held as holy rit­ual by cer­tain be­nighted be­liev­ers, but “cul­ture” would never be en­ter­tained as a de­fense against a charge of mur­der. Nei­ther can “cul­ture” be a de­fense of mu­ti­la­tion, as Harry Reid rightly ob­serves. Le­gal im­mi­grants are al­ways wel­come in Amer­ica, but they must adopt the Amer­i­can cul­ture, and if the abuse of chil­dren is part of a new im­mi­grant’s religion, he should get a new religion.

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