Anti-FGM Advocates ‘Devastated’ by US Ruling

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Street style in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo: Christian Vierig / Getty Images)
Street style in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo: Christian Vierig / Getty Images)

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Clarion Project received a flood of messages from anti-FGM advocates devastated by the ruling on our nation’s first FGM case.

Last week, Clarion Project reported on the breaking news that a federal judge dismissed FGM charges against a Michigan doctor on a legal loophole. Here’s are some of the comments we received from global activists:

“We are saddened that this case has been thrown out – the decision impacts not only those affected directly, but also thousands of girls at risk of FGM in the US. Anti-FGM laws are essential for the protection of women and girls and they are an important statement of intent at both federal and state level that demonstrate that this harmful practice is an unacceptable form of child abuse.

This case has shown that anti-FGM laws in the U.S. need to be revisited and tightened so that cases brought to court cannot be thrown out on a technicality. National legislation needs to be adopted and enforced across ALL States to ensure consistency of protection and also prevent women and girls from being moved between states to avoid prosecution. We fully support Equality Now, We Speak Out, Sahiyo and Safe Hands for Girls who are now pushing for the U.S. government to appeal this decision.”
– Dr Ann-Marie Wilson, Founder and Executive Director, 28 Too Many

“While I understand that the decision was probably based on a legal technicality, I deeply regret that those guilty of these atrocities will go unpunished for this particular act. It is imperative that ALL states pass legislation to address the issue. Victims deserve justice and a message must be sent to all those who practice FGM. I wish I never had to perform another FGM reversal operation.”
– Dr. T. Wayne Bloodworth, The Surgery Center for FGM

“What is so disappointing is that justice will be delayed in this case. There is a growing, global movement against khafz/FGC [FGM] and we need positive judgments to send a strong message to our community that this practice is harmful and illegal. We must protect future generations of Bohra girls.”
– Farzana Doctor, Author and Social Worker, We Speak Out

“This judgement does not behold well for the global mission (and the United Nation’s SDG5 goal) to end FGM. It will definitely have a ripple effect on anti-FGM campaigns worldwide because it has validated the assumptions of locals and practitioners of FGM that the ‘white imperialist’ never really cared about the ‘presumed complications of FGM’ but just wanted to deprive other people of their traditions.

It just doesn’t add up and it’s somehow hypocritical – how the U.S. government that sends funds to support Global Health Efforts – including FGM – cannot be emphatic and exemplary in showing the world of their commitment to end FGM by giving a reprimand to the offenders.

It is really complicated. Already, the fear of being labeled either as racists or cultural imperialists has deterred many white people from opposing FGM! This judgement will definitely widen that side of the divide. However, we call on the U.S. government to be categorical in taking a giant step in the path to condemn FGM worldwide, because FGM is a crime against humanity!”
– Sylvia Chioma, Project Coordinator, The Girdle Network

“I was greatly saddened when I heard this news…what this judgment does is that it reinforces the practice of FGM in the US by removing the legal backing which many activists and survivors currently enjoy in the U.S. Hopefully this judgment gets appealed against because it’s simply outrageous.”
– Ugwu Somto, Lawyer on gender issues, The Society for Improvement of Rural People (SIRP)

In the season of #MeToo that has brought increased awareness of and sensitivity to women’s rights and gender violence, it is especially baffling for any American judge to fail to protect women and girls. On Monday, November 26th, Time Magazine published an article on what the “most dangerous place” is for women.

The article was a report on a recent United Nations study that concluded how, around the world, “home” may very well be the most dangerous place for a female. In addition to gender, domestic and honor violence, it should also be noted that FGM often takes place in the home. At the very least, it is a decision made by elders within the family, a structure that should offer the most protection for a child.

Home should be a sanctuary for a young girl, not a place where she will become the victim of a brutal mutilation that will negatively impact her physically, sexually and psychologically for the rest of her life.



America’s First FGM Trial: Ruling Was ‘Inhuman’

Michigan FGM Defense Lawyers Push New Tactic

Judge Dismisses FGM Charges Against Michigan Doctor

Curbs on FGM Not Enough: Activists


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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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