Today's post is a follow up to a post I wrote back in September regarding a female genital mutilation (FGM) case in the Detroit, Michigan area.
In September, I wrote that new victims had been identified in the case. The case involves two doctors, and six other adults, some of whom are the parents of children who were subjected to FGM at a clinic in Livonia, Michigan.
The federal judge in the case dismissed some of the charges on Tuesday of last week against all of the defendants. The case was being brought before the court under a 1996 federal statute that criminalized female genital mutilation. This was the first case to actually be brought up under that statute, even though it was passed more than 20 years ago.
In his 28-page opinion, US District Judge Bernard Friedman said, "Congress overstepped its bounds by legislating to prohibit (female genital mutilation)."
The two doctors, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala and Dr. Fakhruddin Attar are believed by some authorities to have performed FGM on over 100 girls in the area, although only nine victims were named in the case.
Shortly after Nagarwala was arrested in April 2017, Michigan passed state legislation that criminalized FGM, making them the 26th state to do so.
Nagarwala has attempted to defend herself by claiming that she was performing a religious custom for girls from her Muslim sect. Nagarwala belongs to the India-based Dawoodi Bohra sect of Shia Islam.
Not all of the charges in the case have been dropped. Nagarwala still faces conspiracy to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and obstruction charges. Other defendants still face obstruction charges.
According to a spokeswoman who discussed the case, the US attorney's office is reviewing Friedman's opinion.
Nagarwala's lawyer had filed a motion to have the charges dismissed, saying that she was confident she could have them dropped. Apparently getting her client off of some of the many charges she was facing was more important to her than protecting young female children from being mutilated.
Mariya Taher, a social activist and herself a survivor of FGM, told local press that "this is crazy." She now fears that this ruling will put many more young women at risk.
"Unfortunately, this is going to embolden those who believe that this must be continued ... they'll feel that this is permission, that it's OK to do this," she said.
I agree with Taher on this. This is another example of the government failing to protect children who are done tremendous harm by their religiously motivated parents.
I am reminded of when Mayor de Blasio of New York had the Department of Health eliminate a consent form that had been mandatory for Jewish parents to sign before allowing a mohel to perform the circumcision practice known as metzitzah b’peh, where the mohel uses his mouth to suck the blood off the infant's penis after the foreskin is removed. The consent form had become required by law after several infant boys had been infected with herpes in New York after the ritual. The consent form was retracted by the department because de Blasio caved to pressure from ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders.
Our society's inability to criticize ludicrous religious ideas or to protect children from the delusional fantasies of their parents continues to do a countless amount of needless harm.