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I couldn’t bring myself to spell out the initials in the title: Female Genital Mutilation. In fact, I nearly didn’t write the post, the topic is so abhorrent. But given the facts, and the manner in which this crime has been reported, I felt compelled to write about it.
Just over one week ago, Jumana Nagarwala was jailed in Detroit for practicing female genital mutilation on two, seven-year old girls. Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco 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.”
Nagarwala was a 44-year old emergency room physician working at Henry Ford Health System. In protesting her arrest, her attorney, Sharon Thompson, explained the following: “Nagarwala never performed female genital mutilation … The doctor merely wiped off a portion of the mucous membrane from the girls’ clitoris. A small amount was placed on a gauze pad and given to the family for burial. This is part of the culture,” Thompson told the magistrate.
Nagarwala is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra from India, a community that is based locally out of the Anjuman-e-Najmi mosque on Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills. It’s the only Dawoodi Bohra mosque in Michigan. At this writing, no one confirmed that her attorney’s description of the procedures she performed was accurate. At a hearing on Monday, she was held without bond while awaiting trial.
In my research I discovered that FGM is practiced by 29 African countries and also ethnic groups in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. The Female Genital Mutilation website provides this chart:
Unicef provides the following data from 2016:
According to the data, girls 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence of FGM among this age in Gambia at 56 per cent, Mauritania 54 per cent and Indonesia where around half of girls aged 11 and younger have undergone the practice. Countries with the highest prevalence among girls and women aged 15 to 49 are Somalia 98 per cent, Guinea 97 per cent and Djibouti 93 per cent.
In most of the countries the majority of girls were cut before reaching their fifth birthdays.
The global figure in the FGM statistical report includes nearly 70 million more girls and women than estimated in 2014.This is due to population growth in some countries and nationally representative data collected by the Government of Indonesia. As more data on the extent of FGM become available the estimate of the total number of girls and women who have undergone the practice increases.
In researching the data regarding the countries that immigrate to the US, I found the following information from Pew Research:
If you compare this chart to the previous chart, you can see that although some countries that immigrate to the US practice FGM with only a small portion of their children, it still occurs, and the numbers in those countries are increasing.
I feel obligated to point out a number of factors that counter such a devastating picture: we don’t know precisely which Muslims are actively practicing FGM in their countries of origin because complete data is hard to collect; we don’t know how many of the immigrants will maintain FGM practices if they immigrate to this country, given its illegality; we don’t know how many Muslim doctors will practice the procedure for the same reasons. There is simply a great deal we don’t know.
Regarding this topic, M. Zuhdi Jasser, at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, reported on the crime and demanded a full investigation.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, originally from Somali, made the following points on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News:
People don’t like talking about the genitals of little girls, but we do have to describe what happens. The clitoris of the little girl is removed, and the labis is sewed shut. This is done to kill the sexual libido… and ensure virginity. Some people say they have religious reasons — it is because of Islam. Some say it is because of cultural reasons. Or a mixture of that. That can never be an excuse to harm girls in that way.
After checking the internet every day for the past week, I have only seen Dr. Jasser and Hirsi Ali speak out publicly against this travesty in Detroit.
Nagarwala’s mosque and the Muslim community in general, to my knowledge, have been silent.