Category Archives: FGM

MUTILATING LITTLE GIRLS IN MICHIGAN’S LITTLE PALESTINE

A female genital mutilation horror in the Midwest.

by Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

Livonia, Michigan is known as Little Palestine. The Detroit suburb is famous for its anti-Israel meetings. You could go hear Mustafa Barghouthi, Omar Barghouti and Ali Abunimah without taking a long drive.

It’s also known for its shady doctors.

Dr. Murtaza Hussain was busted for letting unlicensed employees diagnose patients and write prescriptions. Dr. Waseem Alam and Dr. Hatem Ataya pleaded guilty in the nation’s largest Medicare fraud case totaling $712 million in false billings centering on Shahid Tahir, Muhammad Tariq and Manavar Javed’s Livonia medical firms. But what was going on at one Livonia clinic was far worse than the theft of millions. Anyone passing by at the right time could hear the screams of little girls.

We think of horrors like female genital mutilation as a terrible thing that happens over “there.” But as the implacable tide of Muslim immigration swept across Europe, “there” became the United Kingdom.

England recorded 5,700 cases of FGM in less than a year. France has jailed 100 people for FGM. An estimated 50,000 women in Germany have undergone FGM with a 30 percent boost due to the rise of Islamic migration in the last several years. In Sweden, it’s 38,000. And now, as American towns and cities are reshaped by Muslim migration, “there” is now right here. The terrible practice is in America.

Sweden was the first Western country to outlaw FGM. But despite the prevalence of FGM in Sweden, there have only been a handful of convictions. The United States banned FGM in 1997. A Federal report in 2012 warned that 513,000 women and girls in the United States were at risk for FGM.

Now after twenty years of the law’s existence, a Muslim doctor has become the first to be charged.

Operating out of a Livonia clinic, Jumana Fakhruddin Nagarwala abused unknown numbers of little girls. The end came when law enforcement traced calls to her from a Minnesota number.  Then they followed the trail to a hotel in Farmington Hills; a Michigan city at the center of an Islamic Center controversy.

It was Friday evening; the holy day of the Islamic week when Muslims are told to “leave off business” and “hasten to the remembrance of Allah.” That is what the two women leading two little girls to be mutilated thought that they were doing. Muslims believe that on Friday, angels stand outside the doors of mosques to record who shows up for prayer. But it was the hotel surveillance cameras that watched and recorded as the two little girls arrived, unaware of the horror that was about to happen to them.

The 7-year-old girl had been told that she was going to Detroit for a “special” girls’ trip. Instead her special trip turned into a nightmare. After the Muslim doctor allegedly mutilated her, she warned the child not to talk about what was done to her.

Then it was back to Minnesota.

The other little girl drew a picture of the room. And she drew an X on the examining room table to show where her blood had spilled. With pain radiating all the way down her body, the Muslim doctor who had abused her told her that she was fine.

And her parents told her not to tell.

It was early February. The temperature on that terrible day in Livonia fell as low as 12 degrees. By the next day, she was back in Minnesota, likely the “Little Mogadishu” in Minneapolis, where temperatures had cratered to 9 degrees.  The abused little girl could hardly walk. And in her pain and anguish, she left behind one of her gloves. The glove had her name on it. When the house of horrors in Livonia was finally raided, that solitary child’s glove was still there like a gruesome trophy.

The investigation turned back home to Michigan. Authorities found plenty of girls who had been abused by Jumana. And now she’s under arrest.

But the culture of silence still continues.

The criminal complaint is as circuitous as the entire culture of FGM. It relies heavily on euphemisms. The perpetrators and the girls at risk are referred to only as “members of a particular religious and cultural community”. What is this community? It must thereafter remain nameless.

Jumana is a “member of the community”. The family that delivered their little girls to Jumana is “part of the community in Minnesota”. What community? As the little girls from that nameless community in Minnesota were told, don’t talk about it. Don’t mention the community.

The full name of the perpetrator, Jumana Fakhruddin Nagarwala, is rarely used. Fakhruddin is far less ambiguous than the rest of her name. It comes from the Arabic and means “Pride in religion.”

That nameless religion practiced by the nameless community.

It isn’t the Swedes or Norwegians of Minnesota who mutilate their daughters. In Minnesota, it’s largely a Somali problem. Back home in Somalia, 98% of little girls have been mutilated. And the Somali Muslims who have migrated here in great numbers do their best to keep up the gruesome practice in America. The Hennepin County Medical Center, a hospital located in a place named after a Franciscan priest, has a special report on dealing with FGM that emphasizes cultural sensitivity.

It defines the “big hurdle” as, “Muslim (Somali) Culture: Value Acquiescence to Allah as supreme authority” and “American Culture: Value the supremacy of the individual”.

That’s certainly one way of defining it.

Just as Sweden was the first European country to ban FGM to little avail, Minnesota became the first state to ban FGM, also to little avail. As the Somali Muslims keep pouring in, 44,293 women and girls in the state face the threat of being mutilated. Some of the Somali settlers send their daughters back home to be abused. Others take a shorter trip to Michigan.

Which “community” is it that encompasses an Indian Muslim like Jumana and the likely Somali victims while operating in Little Palestine? It isn’t an ethnic community or even a religious one. It’s Islam.

But the official word is that FGM is a practice that occurs in “certain Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities”. It is certainly unique to list a practice in reverse order of probability.

Stories on FGM occasionally quote some local cleric insisting that the practice has no foundation in Islam. That would come as news to the Hadith which quotes Mohammed as saying, “Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women.”

This is the honor of Islam for which women are murdered and mutilated. And to preserve the honor of Islam, we are told to remain silent about it. It’s not only the abusers and the abused girls who maintain the culture of silence. It’s the authorities and the media that carefully step around the obvious.  Just as with Islamic terrorism, a refusal to name the problem makes it impossible to solve.

Jumana Fakhruddin Nagarwala made her court appearance wearing “a light-colored, matching dress and khimar, or veil that covered her head, neck and shoulders.”

The term is meaningless to the average American. As it’s meant to be.

The Khimar is a heavier Muslim head covering. The Koranic version that mentions it also casually references castrated male slaves. The drives behind the Khimar and FGM are not far apart. Both stigmatize women and enforce Islamic traditions of repression with brutal violence.

Islam’s honor originates from the repression of the “Other”. That includes non-Muslims and Muslim women. The girls brutalized on Jumana’s exam table were abused as part of an ancient tradition. Jumana took pride in her abuses because, as her name signifies, she takes pride in her religion.

If we truly want to end such abuses, we must take as much pride in our principles and values as monsters like Jumana do in her theirs.

 

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#Islam: FGM app launches in Britain

A new app designed to educate young people about female genital mutilation (FGM) was launched in Britain on Tuesday amid a government crackdown on people who take girls abroad to undergo the practice during the summer holidays.
Britain’s first FGM app, “Petals”, presents facts and information about the practice, offers a quiz to test the user’s knowledge and provides details on where young girls can receive help – including a direct link to an FGM advice line.
FGM involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia and can cause serious physical and psychological problems and complications in childbirth.
Some girls are at risk of being subjected to FGM, which is often seen as a gateway to marriage and a way of preserving a girl’s purity, when their parents take them abroad during school holidays to visit extended family, British security forces say.
“Everyone has the right to live their life free from the fear of violence and abuse, and without experiencing the lasting trauma of female genital mutilation,” Nicky Morgan, Britain’s minister for women and equalities, said.
“We need to raise awareness of this barbaric practice and ensure people know it is unacceptable and illegal,” she added in a statement ahead of an event in Westminster to launch the app, which was developed at the University of Coventry.
The app was released a month after British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to fast-track new FGM protection orders in time for the school summer holidays in Britain.
The new legislation would see people suspected of trying to take a girl abroad for FGM asked to surrender their passport and travel documents, while those who breach the orders could face up to five years in prison.
The app, which is primarily aimed at girls and young women who are at risk from FGM, can be accessed on devices including smartphones and tablets, or a laptop, via an internet browser.
It has been designed to safeguard potentially vulnerable users by protecting their anonymity and making them untraceable.
An estimated 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales have undergone FGM, and some 66,000 girls may be at risk of the ritual. It is practiced by various ethnic minority communities in Britain, such as Somalis, Eritreans, Sudanese and Egyptians.
FGM has been a criminal offence in Britain since 1985, but new legislation in 2003 introduced a maximum prison sentence of 14 years and made it an offence for British citizens to carry out or procure FGM abroad, even in countries where it is legal.
British border force officers have since stepped up surveillance of airline passengers flying to and from countries which practise FGM, including Kenya, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Egypt: Female genital mutilation persists

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CAIRO — I vividly remember, when I was little, those collective ceremonies that our neighbors from rural areas — from Upper Egypt in particular — used to have for their daughters. They used to hand out sweet rice dishes and the girls used to wear brand new white clothes, as if they were brides. However, I never understood why they would lean against their mothers to be able to walk and why they couldn’t play with the rest of us during ceremonies that were held specifically for them.

This scene, depicting female genital mutilation (FGM) ceremonies, is no longer common in Cairo or in other big Egyptian cities. This is probably due to several reasons, including the fact that many rural families have gotten used to urban civil life and abandoned such traditions known in the countryside. In addition, the Egyptian community’s negative look at FGM also had a role in it, as well as the fact that civil society organizations came together with the Egyptian government to fight this tradition and criminalize it in 2008 under the Egyptian Child Law.

Unfortunately, the absence of FGM ceremonies in Egyptian cities has not been accompanied by the absence of the phenomenon itself. Egypt has the highest rate of FGM in the world, according to the latest UNICEF reports, as 91% of girls in Egypt undergo FGM. However, the law has now compelled families to perform these ceremonies — designed to preserve their daughters’ chastity — in secret.

The death of Rasha, 13, one of the victims of “secret FGM” in Egypt in 2013, sparked a new revolution against the phenomenon, as the Egyptian judiciary took action to punish the perpetrators. An Egyptian court issued its first ruling against FGM on Jan. 26, 2015, sentencing the doctor and the father to prison.

The National Population Council in Egypt declared Feb. 6 the “International Day for the Elimination of FGM.” It also launched in 2015 the “Enough with FGM” campaign, in which television ads depicted the suffering of women from the effects of this practice and how science and religion view this tradition.

The government’s plan aims to reduce the rate of FGM practices by 15% for girls between the ages of 10 and 18. According to the last official population health survey in 2008, the practice of FGM for married women between the ages of 15 and 48 reached 91%. The indicators of the new survey, which should be announced by mid-2015, suggest that the practice has decreased among girls between the ages of 15 and 18 to about 50%.

The 2008 survey revealed that only 70% of the practiced FGM are performed by doctors, which means that 30% are performed by non-specialists outside of hospitals in unsanitary settings.

The representatives of civil society in Egypt held the religious movements — such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists — responsible for the re-emergence of this phenomenon in Egypt’s rural areas.

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Hany Helal, chairman of the Egyptian Center for Children’s Rights, noted that the Freedom and Justice Party took advantage of medical convoys — which it led in Upper Egypt — to promote the return of FGM after Mohammed Morsi became president in 2012. The doctors present during the medical convoy were accused of raising banners promoting free FGM procedures for girls. “The Doctors’ Syndicate should follow up on this issue in order to prevent the spread of this practice under the medical banner,” he told Al-Monitor.

Meanwhile, head of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, Nuhad Abu Qomsan, told Al-Monitor, “The sheikhs of the extremist Islamic groups — especially the Salafists — are still trying to ruin any progress we accomplish in the awareness-raising campaigns on the dangers of FGM.”

Helal and Abu Qomsan both agreed that the Egyptian government’s tightening its grip on civil society negatively affects programs that aim to defend children’s rights and fight this phenomenon.

Abu Qomsan said, “There are three groups of people who practice this horrible tradition in Egypt. The first are the ones who believe that it’s a part of their religious faith, and this applies to both Muslim and Christian religious extremists, who are against women’s rights. The second are the ones who believe that it guarantees the girl’s chastity and honor. The third are the ones who believe that it is a ritual celebrating the girl’s transition from childhood to womanhood.”

She pointed out that the last group, which used to represent 30% of the population that practices this tradition, refrained from performing FGM following the issuance of the law in 2008. Therefore, collective FGM ceremonies disappeared before reappearing after the January 25 Revolution due to lack of security.

“The ones who believe that it’s about the girl’s chastity still need more awareness to understand that chastity and honor are not about cutting a piece of the girl’s body. As for the religious extremists, they are really hard to convince,” said Abu Qomsan.

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Helal called for harsher punishment that would include both parents. He pointed out that despite the fact that Al-Azhar has assumed the responsibility of raising religious awareness on the dangers of FGM, the issue is still a bone of contention among sheikhs. He stressed that the church settled its position a long time ago, as there is no dispute between priests on whether FGM is a religious ritual. The number of Christian families that still practice this tradition is very limited.

He emphasized the government’s responsibility in activating the child protection committees formed in 2008 to follow up on the law’s application in various villages.

“Enough with FGM” is a resonant phrase that has recently entered every Egyptian household through TV in an effort to stop this phenomenon in all Egyptian communities.