Tag Archives: FGM

Two Doctors Arrested in Michigan for Performing Female Genital Mutilation

An anonymous tip to federal authorities, cell phone records, and surveillance video have put two doctors behind bars for carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) on young girls as young as seven in Michigan. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala and Dr. Fakhruddin Attar are currently awaiting a detention hearing next week. Attar’s wife was also arrested at she and her husband’s suburban Livonia, Michigan clinic on Friday.

The girls who live in Minnesota were taken by their parents to Michigan in February for the FGM procedure that was performed by Nagarwala at Attar’s clinic. Nagarwala denies performing FGM, but rather removing membranes for burial by the girls’ parents. While the parents have not been arrested one girl was put in the care of the state for a short period.

A federal law passed in 1996 officially made FGM illegal across the country. 25 states also have anti-FGM laws on their books. Despite FGM’s illegality, it is estimated that there are 500,000 young girls in the United States who have either undergone FGM or are at risk for having the procedure done in secret.

Those involved are alleged to be a part of the Dawoodi Bohra community in Michigan.

Surveillance from the unsealed complaint revealed 20-minute FGM procedures performed by Nagarwala after hours and phone records showing Mrs. Attar telling the girls’ parents to deny everything if they were contacted by investigators.

The detention hearings are expected to take place on Wednesday. Nagarwala was already deemed a flight risk after being caught trying to take a flight to Kenya.

IN PHOTOS: Engaging Health Workers to End Female Genital Mutilation

Friday, February 6 was International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation. Individuals, corporations, NGOs, the media, and foundations rallied together to raise awareness about FGM. Over 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM and it is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15.

Press Conference on Engaging Health Workers to End Female Genital Mutilation at the United Nations

Edna Adan Ismail (centre), Nurse-Midwife, Director and Founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland, addresses a press conference on the subject of engaging health workers to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The press conference took place on the International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation (6 February).
Edna Adan Ismail (centre), Nurse-Midwife, Director and Founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland, addresses a press conference on the subject of engaging health workers to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The press conference took place on the International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation (6 February).

Continue reading IN PHOTOS: Engaging Health Workers to End Female Genital Mutilation

10 Facts About Female Genital Mutilation You May Not Have Known #EndFGM

The Girl With Three LegsToday marks the UN’s International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. It is vitally important that we raise our collective voices today and frequently throughout the year to help stop the violence against young girls who are literally mutilated in the name of culture and custom when they have to endure a lifetime of pain and agony.

I just finished the riveting book The Girl With Three Legs: A Memoir about a Somalian woman, Soraya Mire, who underwent the practice in Mogadishu when she was 13. It is a fascinating read into the culture of FGM and why it is extremely difficult to stop. It also is an empowering testament about how a single voice can indeed make change. Think about what a chorus of voices can do!

Read my review of The Girl With Three Legs and take stock of the following facts you may or may not have known about FGM.

IST PHOTO / STUART PRICE

Book Review: Somalian Memoirist Writes About FGM in Raw Detail

The Girl with Three Legs: A MemoirThe Girl with Three Legs: A Memoir by Soraya Mire

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Female genital mutilation or FGM for short is one of the most horrific crimes against girls and women in the world. According to the World Health Organization over 100 million women and girls live with the adverse effects of FGM, a traditional practice where a girl’s external genitalia are removed. The pain is excruciating oftentimes performed without anesthesia by older women in a village and according to traditional customs. Girls are then sewn up and a tiny hole is all that remains – tiny enough that only a Q-tip can get inside. FGM causes massive health problems for women and girls who sometimes cannot urinate and have unbearable menses because the blood cannot sufficiently flow out of a girl’s body. Once a girl is married, many times very early, sex is painful and when she has a baby its head cannot breach the massive, thick scar tissue that forms from FGM causing its death. And many women find themselves then having a fistula. This happens more times than not. FGM remains a destructive circle of violence against women and girls particularly when after birth women are re-sewn in order to remain “chaste”.

Soraya-MireThe best telling of FGM is in The Girl with Three Legs: A Memoir written by FGM activist and Somalian woman, Soraya Mire. Mire was 13 years old living in Mogadishu, Somalia when she underwent FGM. Her day started beautifully with her mother going out to shop and buy beautiful clothes, but the day ended in a strange house where her genitalia was forcefully removed and literally thrown to stray dogs to eat. It was a horrific experience for Mire, she writes. It took her many, many years before she decided to come forward to help prevent girls from undergoing FGM in her homeland and beyond.

After undergoing FGM Mire became extremely sick with swollen legs because urine and blood could never pass through her vagina as it should. Her parents who were wealthy tried everything to help her except reverse the procedure. They called in a Chinese doctor to perform acupuncture. They went to a local doctor who prescribed her medicine because they thought she had gone crazy, but it didn’t work. They also took Mire to local healers and, of course, that didn’t help either. She lived in pain for years until she went to college in Europe and discovered she has been secretly married to one of her cousins.

FGM and an arranged marriage were the ultimate signs of betrayal for her independence and for autonomy over her body. It took Mire several moves in Europe, escaping from her husband, and an eventual and final move to the United States before she found her voice to create her film about FGM, Fire Eyes.

Amid death threats and being shunned by her people and even countries that didn’t want her showing her film she found resolve in spreading the word about the dangers of FGM. Through sheer determination and a willingness to move forward with her story despite many Somalian’s desire for her to keep her mouth shut about FGM Mire found herself at Sundance and even on the Oprah show. She was also instrumental in helping to make FGM a felony in the United States as more Somalian refugees came to America and tried to continue the practice with their daughters.

Knowing and understanding the full scope of FGM is difficult if you haven’t gone through it or know anyone who has, but Mire brings the ugliness of this violence against women and girls to her readers in raw detail. Anyone who reads this will stand against the practice in any way they can.

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How can you help?

Join the DFID Thunderclap against FGM.

Support UNFPA and UNICEF‘s joint campaign to end FGM.

Putting an End to Female Genital Mutilation

Today marks the annual International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Each year February 6th is spent by leading NGOs and international aids organizations spreading awareness about the devastating cutting practice that puts three million girls in both east and west Africa as well as Arab countries at risk of undergoing FGM.

An estimated 101 million girls have undergone FGM in Africa and while there are many communities in Africa that continue the practices many are renouncing FGM. In fact 36% of girls between the ages of 15 – 19 in Africa (concentrated in 29 countries) are at risk of FGM as opposed to 53% of women between the ages of 45 – 49 who have already undergone FGM. The numbers are decreasing according to the UNFPA.

“Senegal is going way out front to tackle FGM,” said Lynne Featherstone, UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development and Champion for the elimination of violence against women during a Google+ Hangout today. “It seems to me to be a good example of behavior change. We have an ambition to end FGM in a generation.”

“UNFPA and UNICEF have an institutional approach to ridding the world of FGM,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA. “Since 2008 that joint program has seen at least 10 thousand communities in these countries denounce FGM.

Osotimehin also said that 88,000 health providers have been trained so that they can work in health centers and educate traditional communities about the dangers of FGM.

Despite the increased awareness and lowering of FGM rates Osotimehin said, “I think there is a lot more to do. We need to invest more domestically and internationally. We need to work more with governments on the ground. We need to stigmatize FGM. We can achieve it. If we don’t there are 30 million girls who are still at risk for FGM.”

Learn more about female genital mutilation and how you can help at www.endfistula.org.

Photo Credit: United Nations