Leaders must speak up to stop female genital mutilation

AJ Kern, Sauk Rapids3:04 p.m. CT April 29, 2017

(Photo: Submitted photo)

With the recent arrest of Michigan emergency room doctor Jumana Nagarwala, it’s time to have “the talk.”  I’m not talking about that awkward discussion you had with your kids about the birds and the bees.  I’m talking about the cultural and religious ritual of female genital mutilation, or FGM.

Nagarwala was charged with performing FGM, a felony, involving the removal of clitoral skin from two 7-year-old girls brought to Detroit from Minnesota. Although charges have yet to be brought against the parents, Hennepin and Anoka county attorney’s offices have filed child protection petitions in the first federal case in the country.

Female genital mutilation is a brutal act you might find in a horror film, which makes it difficult to discuss and comprehend.

A 2004 World Bank report claims girls having undergone FGM suffer permanent and irreversible health damage.  “Every year, two million girls are subject to mutilation, which traditional communities call ‘female circumcision’ and the international community terms ‘female genital mutilation’ (FGM), or ‘female genital cutting’ (FGC).”

Identifying FGM/C as “female circumcision” is deceptive.

While male circumcision, performed at birth, is not destructive to genitalia nor does it eliminate the male’s ability to function normally.  This is not the case for females.

FGM/C is typically performed on girls from birth to 15 years of age, without pain medication or anesthesia, inflicts serious physical, psychological and painful sexual complications.  A lifetime of suffering resulting in eliminating the woman’s sexual desire including lack of libido and orgasm.

Somalia has one of the highest FGM rates in the world and now we have evidence that it is practiced here in America.

The World Bank estimates “98 percent of Somali women and girls have undergone some form of genital mutilation.  About 90 percent have been subjected to the most drastic form, type III.

FGM type I, a clitoridectomy, consists of partial or total removal of the clitoris. Type II, known as excision, the clitoris and labia minora are partially or totally removed, with or without excision of the labia majora.

Type III, a radical procedure known as infibulation, includes removing the clitoris and narrowing the vaginal orifice by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or labia majora. The vagina is stitched together then the girls’ legs are bound together in facilitating the desired closure while healing.  A small opening is created for urine and menstrual blood to escape. An infibulation is opened through penetrative sexual intercourse or surgery.

In 1996, Congress passed legislation making FGM/C a federal crime.

And because immigrants have been caught taking their daughters back to their country of origin for the procedure, in 2012, Congress passed the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act, making so-called “vacation cutting” illegal.

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