Islamic religious defense planned in landmark Detroit genital mutilation cases. More than a year after her arrest in the nation’s first female genital cutting case, the defiant Dr. Jumana Nagarwala continues to pound away at the government for pursuing the case. She claims, among other things, that the law that’s being used to prosecute her is unconstitutional.
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[#2] “clitoral hood has a small incision; small tear to labia minora”
While six child victims have been identified thus far, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward has disclosed that defendant Dr. Jumana Nagarwala may have performed some 100 FGM procedures on young girls during the past 12-years.
Why would trained Bohra Muslim MDs, Dr. Nagarwala, and her MD co-defendant, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, engage in the illegal practice of FGM—which has no intrinsic medical value—while further violating the Hippocratic Oath, “noxamvero et maleficium propulsabo”/ “I will utterly reject harm and mischief,” by causing well-established immediate and chronic medical complications [bleeding, infection, difficult birthing, painful intercourse], and deleterious psychological effects [depression, phobic anxiety, hostility]?
An unapologetic explanation was provided forthrightly in a February 2017 publication, “Understanding Female Genital Cutting in the Dawoodi Bohra Community: An Exploratory Survey,” by anti-FGM activist social worker Mariya Taher. Ms. Taher, noted aptly,
…the Daim al-Islam, a religious text followed by this community endorses the practice.
This most authoritative text in Shi’ite Ismaili Law Da’a’im al-Islam of al-Numan (translated by the respected Indian Ismaili Muslim scholar Asaf A.A. Fyzee), makes plain that the purpose of FGM, quoting Shiism’s revered martyr, Ali himself, is to make women “more chaste”, “pure,” [Vol. 1, pp. 154-55]:
Ali: He said, “O women, when you circumcise your daughters, leave [part of the labia or clitoris]. For this will be chaster for their character and it will make them more beloved by their husbands”. He also said, “Hasten with the circumcision of your children, for it indeed leads to greater purity.” He said, “A girl should not be circumcised until she is 7 years old.”
Not surprisingly, Bohra Muslim women who have come forth bravely to reject this misogynistic barbarity, decry how this form of FGM—like all others—is designed to suppress female sexuality. The goal of reducing female “concupiscence”—“unbridled lust,” or mere sexual pleasure, derived from a fully intact clitoris—demonstrates how minority Bohra Muslim/Shiite Ismaili Islamic law converges with the much larger mainstream corpus of majority Sunni Islamic law on FGM/ “female circumcision” [FGM/C].
The following canonical hadith (“tradition” of Muhammad) sanctions FGM/C:
Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah said: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet said to her: “Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.” [Sunan Abu Dawud, Chapter 1888, “Circumcision of Girls”, Number 5251, from Sunan Abu Dawud, one of the six canonical hadith collections, English translation with Explanatory notes by Prof. Ahmad Hasan, 2007, Volume III, p. 1451; this hadith is also available online here, as Book 41, Number 5251]
Doctor in genital mutilation case at war with feds
The doctor at the center of a historic genital mutilation case has another favor she’s asking of the judge: let me use the Internet.
This, on top of — please dismiss more charges against me.
More than a year after her arrest in the nation’s first female genital cutting case, the defiant Dr. Jumana Nagarwala continues to pound away at the government for pursuing the case. She claims, among other things, that the law that’s being used to prosecute her is unconstitutional, so therefore the key charges against her need to be dropped.
She’s also upset about losing certain freedoms, such as using the Internet.
This week, a judge will hold a hearing to consider her request to access the Internet, which she’s forbidden from using under the terms of her bond conditions.
Nagarwala, who is accused of cutting the genitalia of dozens of prepubescent girls and instructing members of her religious community to lie about it, has asked permission to use the Internet for 78 hours a month to watch religious live-streamed sermons. Specifically, as a member of a small Indian Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, she wants to watch services that celebrate a nine-day holiday honoring Prophet Mohammed’s grandson.
The government says forget it, arguing there’s no way to monitor Nagarwala’s online access 78 hours a month given that the sermons she intends to watch are overseas, private and need password access. And it’s too risky to let her to do it, prosecutors argue, noting the no-Internet-access condition was set because of concerns that she is a flight risk and a danger to the community.
“(Nagarwala) is charged with participating in a 12-year conspiracy to perform FGM on countless 7-year-old girls. … (She’s) the most culpable individual on an eight-person indictment,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward wrote in a Friday court filing. “Whether (she) visited other websites or accessed the internet for other purposes would be impossible to know.”
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman will hold a hearing on Tuesday to decide the issue. Next month, he’ll conduct another hearing to decide an even bigger issue: whether to dismiss the actual genital mutilation charges against Nagarwala and her two codefendants: Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, who is accused of letting Nagarwala use his Livonia clinic to perform the procedures, and his wife Farida Attar, who allegedly held the girls’ hands during the procedures.
The defendants are challenging the 22-year-old federal law that criminalizes female genital mutilation, which has never been used before this case. The statute states: “Whoever knowingly circumcises, excises or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person” under the age of 18 shall be fined or imprisoned for up to five years, or both.
Prosecutors argue Nagarwala did exactly that — with the help of the Attars — when she cut the genitals of two 7-year-old Minnesota girls who were tricked into the procedure in 2017 by their mothers and cried and bled afterward. Though prosecutors cite six victims in the indictment, including four Michigan girls, they allege Nagarwala may have subjected up to 100 girls to the procedure over a 12-year period.
Nagarwala has maintained she committed no crime, but that she engaged in a religious ritual that involved only a “shaving” or a “nick” of the genitals.
Moreover, she now claims she’s being prosecuted under a law that “Congress lacked authority to enact … thus the female genital mutilation charges must be dismissed.”
“The law was never debated on the floor of either chamber of Congress nor was there ever any legislative hearing addressing the justification or need for the federal law. Instead, all that exists is the criminal statute itself,” defense lawyers wrote in the July 27 filing, claiming the driving force behind the legislation was one lawmaker’s belief that the prohibited conduct was ‘repulsive and cruel.’ “
But the Constitution demands more than that, the defense states, arguing Congress could not have passed a female genital mutilation ban under the Commerce Clause because “notably, here, the activity being regulated has absolutely no effect on interstate commerce.”
While the indictment mentions six victims — two from Minnesota, four from Michigan — prosecutors allege Nagarwala subjected up to 100 girls to female genital cutting procedures during a 12-year conspiracy.
If convicted, Nagarwala and the Attars each face up to five years in prison on the female genital mutilation and conspiracy charges. They also face up to 20 years in prison on obstruction of justice charges, if convicted.
The most serious charge against the two doctors — conspiracy to transport a minor “with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity” — was dismissed in January. Judge Friedman agreed with the defense argument that even if female genital mutilation were proven, it would not meet the definition for “sexual activity.”
That charge carried a life sentence.
Nagarwala, the Attars and the other five defendants are all members of a small Indian Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, which has a mosque in Farmington Hills. The sect practices female circumcision and believes it is a religious rite of passage that involves only a minor “nick.”
The other defendants include four mothers accused of subjecting their daughters to the procedure.
The case is set to go to trial in January 2019.
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