Female Circumcision / Genital Mutilation

OneWingedBird

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#1
Not a new story but a rather disturbing tale that I hadn't heard about until this morning.

The scary bit is the way that the bodymod people are trying to present Todd Bertrang as the injured party in this matter, regardless of the fact that he was very definitely practicing medicine without a license, allegedly had what was classified as child pornography in the house, and had agreed to perform female circumcision on a minor.


This is the Reuters reporting of the case.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles couple accused of offering to circumcise young girls for $8,000 were indicted on federal charges on Friday in what prosecutors say is the first U.S. case of its kind.

Todd Cameron Bertrang and Robyn Faulkinbury, who were arrested in January after agreeing to circumcise the fictional children of undercover FBI agents posing as parents, were also charged with making and possessing child pornography, prosecutors said.

An affidavit filed at the time of their arrest said that Bertrang, 41, referred to the 24-year-old Faulkinbury as his slave and offered to show the FBI agents her circumcised genitalia.

Female circumcision is widespread in parts of Africa, where it is seen as a right of passage to womanhood that limits promiscuity. Health workers describe the practice as female genital mutilation and say it causes long-term physical damage and psychological trauma.

A 1995 federal law banned the procedure in the United States, though exceptions are made for cases of medical necessity. Authorities have said there was no evidence that Bertrang and Faulkinbury, who were apparently born in the United States, were acting out of religious or cultural beliefs and did not have the medical training required.

Prosecutors said Bertrang and Faulkinbury are the first defendants charged under the 1995 law.

Bertrang, who was convicted of perjury in 1994, was also accused of possessing six firearms and could face a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted, though federal sentencing guidelines typically call for less. Faulkinbury could face 35 years behind bars.

The FBI agents had posed as a married couple who wanted to have their two girls, ages 8 and 12, circumcised on the advice a British friend who had done the same to his daughter.

The affidavit said undercover FBI agents approached Bertrang over the Internet after getting a tip that he had recently circumcised a young girl and had displayed pictures of a surgically altered teenage girl on a Web site.

Prosecutors say Bertrang bragged to the FBI agents that he had performed more female circumcisions than anyone in the Western world."


The Medical Board of California's press release:

Medical Board of California Arrests Santa Clarita Resident
For Unlicensed Practice of Medicine



SACRAMENTO—The Medical Board of California's Operation Safe Medicine (OSM), in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, served a search warrant on December 19, 2002 at the Santa Clarita residence of an unlicensed person, Todd Cameron Bertrang, for agreeing to perform female circumcisions. The procedure is an extremely painful, traumatizing mutilation of females that leaves them permanently disfigured. He also performs a similar procedure on males. He was charged with violating Business and Professions Code section 2053, a felony, by risking great bodily harm, serious injury or death by practicing medicine without a license. Bertrang was arrested and booked into Santa Clarita Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and will appear in court on January 21, 2003.

The Medical Board of California continues to analyze evidence obtained during the execution of the search warrant. The Board's Chief of Enforcement Dave Thornton said, "The mission of the Medical Board is consumer protection. Stopping the unlicensed practice of medicine in California is a high priority with the Medical Board. We encourage anyone with information regarding additional victims of Todd Bertrang, or any other criminal activity connected to Bertrang, to contact the Medical Board's Cerritos Office at (562) 860-2819."

The case was referred to the Medical Board by a physician from Northern California who received information that Bertrang was performing clitoridectomies on women in Southern California. The FBI, who had received a similar complaint, also was investigating Bertrang. A joint investigation with the FBI resulted in a search warrant being obtained for the Santa Clarita residence, along with an arrest warrant for Bertrang. The investigation has revealed that Bertrang attracted potential patients through Web sites and may have performed various unlicensed procedures that include male and female circumcisions at his residence since 1997. These are procedures that can result in serious injury to patients who are not in a medical setting.

This arrest is the tenth in 2002 by investigators of Operation Safe Medicine, a special unit of the Medical Board composed of trained investigators who seek to protect a significant portion of the population by reducing access to individuals who are unlicensed and a danger to the public when they attempt medical treatment. OSM commenced in January 2001, and works closely with local and federal law enforcement agencies. The staff of investigators target the known areas where the unlicensed practice of medicine flourishes in Orange County and the greater Los Angeles area. The investigators also work other areas of the state as needed and provide training to other Medical Board enforcement staff in how to spot and respond to suspected illegal practices.

OSM is part of the Medical Board's efforts to steer consumers away from unlicensed practitioners, whose treatment of patients has resulted in harm and even death in Southern California. The Board encourages the public to confirm they are receiving healthcare from licensed individuals by calling its Consumer Information Line at (916) 263-2382 or visiting its Web site at http://www.medbd.ca.gov.

The Medical Board of California is the state agency responsible for licensing and regulating physicians in this state.


The editor of BME critisises the law:

The Arrest of Todd Bertrang

The more restrictions and prohibitions in the world, the poorer people get.

- Lao Tzu

UPDATE 01/11/04: Authorities have admitted that they have absolutely no evidence that Todd has ever done these procedures on minors, other than his willingness to play along with their ridiculous fabrication (which included paying him a preposterous $8,000 for the imaginary procedure on the imaginary clients).
Additionally, they have admitted that this whole thing is based on complaints filed by "a woman who said she believed that Bertrang had performed a circumcision on a 10 or 11 year old girl". Given how many times I've heard people in the BME chat room that he's rubbed the wrong way conspire to fabricate false charges against him, why am I not surprised? People said they'd get him busted for things he never did, maybe they succeeded (to put this into time context, it played out in the spring/summer of 2002).

As I write this, Todd Bertrang and his parter Robyn sit in prison for allegedly conspiring to perform female circumcisions on minors. The procedure they were offering is encouraged by the medical community, and, with slight (gender) variation, is even legal for non-doctors to perform. Not only that, but there never actually even were any minors — the whole thing was a cleverly concocted fantasy designed to entrap Bertrang. No matter what your opinion of Todd (he’s never masked his sexual overtones), this arrest is troubling on two levels — first, because it involves a deeply hypocritical law, and second, because it involves a questionable sting on a body modification artist.

To be clear let’s put the procedure in question into context: female circumcision. FGM. Female genital mutilation. It sounds terrible, doesn’t it — but it’s a loaded term chosen by activists (male circumcision is known as MGM, or “male genital mutilation”). The procedure we’re talking about isn’t an infibulation or a clitorectomy — it’s a circumcision (“to cut around”). The purpose of the procedure is to reshape the labia into a more pleasing form and to reduce or split the hood in order to make the clitoris more exposed. The procedure is designed to be a positive and enhancing one, not something oppressive or abusive.

The Hypocrisy

Proponents of female circumcision in the West (it’s a popular elective surgery) will tell you that it enhances the appearance of the genitals, as well as making sex more physically pleasurable. Proponents in Africa and the Middle East will tell you that, on top of its cultural and religious importance, it maintains cleanliness, prevents disease and cancers, keeps a couple together by making the man able to sexually satisfy the woman, and otherwise protects the woman who receives it. Some regions even have circumcision methods designed to make intercourse more physically pleasurable — in countries that it’s done in, it’s the women who have had the procedure that are usually the strongest proponents of continuing the practice.

Now don’t get me wrong — in spite of all these wonderful things about it, I believe it’s fundamentally wrong to force this on a child who can’t decide for themselves, let alone to allow an unqualified practitioner to do it. But we have to take an objective look at this in light of procedures that we do allow.

While most Western countries have phased out the procedure as barbaric, and the AMA has decried it as pointless and dangerous mutilation, in America, the genitals of young boys are still routinely partially amputated. The foreskin, one of the most nerve-heavy parts of the male genitals (and containing glands essential to genital health), is cut off, usually without anesthesia. Significant complications arise annually and numerous men permanently lose sexual function from this procedure. While it is most commonly done by a doctor, non-medical practitioners are also permitted to perform the procedure in private home ceremonies. No health benefits have ever been conclusively shown for this procedure, and the original justification for performing it was to reduce masturbation by “associating pain with the penis”.

So, with boys, we allow non-medical practitioners to cut off part of their genitals for dubious reasons, but with women we don’t. The fact is that we can’t have it both ways. Either make male genital mutilation illegal, or allow it for both genders.


The Sting

Underground cutters tend to be motivated by two factors. First, they usually enjoy doing the procedures they offer. Second, they care about the people they are working on and perceive themselves as helping — by offering a procedure that’s not available in the mainstream, they fulfill an important need and improve someone’s life (and thus they feel a need to come to the aid of someone in distress). The authorities understand that and in their stings play to the desires and ethics of their victim, dangling the perfect carrot in front of their noses.

It’s no secret from his actions in online chat rooms that Todd wants to believe that there are cultures that accept his views on female genital enhancement procedures. Additionally, talking to him it’s clear not only that he’s “getting off” on doing the procedures, but that he cares about his clients. The FBI appears to have presented Todd with a fabricated situation that seemed to good to be true — the opportunity to help a pro-circumcision family (ie. a culture that accepted his belief structure), and to improve two young girls’ lives.

Maybe you’re saying, “Shannon, are you insane? He was a pervert who was hoping to get off cutting up young girl’s genitals!”

That may or may not be true, but the fact is that those girls never actually existed and Todd never sought them out — the FBI presented them to him along with a tailored backstory to make it appear to Todd like he was doing the right thing by allegedly agreeing to perform the operation. Given that it was happening on minors with the full consent of the “parents”, and with the presented goal of helping the minors, can you really say it was even illegal? (Remember, we allow parents to send their children to absolutely brutal, sometimes fatal “Boot Camps”). In Todd’s eyes, and in the eyes of millions of people around the world, this procedure is positive and normal (which would make the government the oppressor, and Todd an agent of freedom). The FBI basically tricked him into allowing his beliefs and ethics to get the better of him.

I’m not trying to defend Todd with this article — if the allegations are true and he offered to work on minors like this, in my opinion he went too far. However, I do feel that it’s fundamentally wrong to charge someone for a crime that only exists as a police fabrication, and I believe it’s even more wrong to charge someone with laws that are by their very nature racist and sexist. These are unjust laws being applied with a heavy hand. Maybe Todd hit on you in a chat room and you’re glad to see him finally go down — but are you really comfortable having it happen like this?

Most body modification happens in a grey area. It’s usually not entirely legal, but it’s also usually not entirely illegal either, depending on how you look at it. Because of this, it’s very easy for almost any body artist to be arrested at any time, based on the whims of local or federal prosecutors. Body modification procedures are safer than everyday activities like driving a car, occur almost exclusively between consenting adults, and usually involve procedures not being medically offered (making underground the only option). To be clear, the laws are fundamentally unjust. Until we either start banning everything, or these procedures start getting medically offered, it is wrong to deny these grass-roots solutions.

The other reason body artists should be wary is if the FBI is setting up stings that seem “too good to be true”, you never know who could be next or how. Most body artists are pretty honest easy-to-read people — it’s very easy to figure out what makes them tick. We’ve accepted as a culture that it is wrong for our authorities to engage in entrapment (entrapment being when the police fabricate an illegal act, encourage the mark to take part in it, and then charge them for it), yet we’ve just watched Todd Bertrang fall victim to it. Because of the seemingly heinous nature of the charges (mutilating the genitals of young girls), most people don’t even consider the fact that this isn’t justice — just like we’re instinctively ready to act outside or beyond the law when it comes to dealing with child molesters and sex criminals.

So objectively, what we have here is an arrest of questionable legality for a fabricated crime, which is only a crime under laws which are hypocritical at best. Ask yourselves — are you willing to allow it to happen just because you don’t like Todd? Then ask yourselves a second question — will it happen again? What do you believe in that the mainstream may not agree with?


And the article Artist or Criminal, also from BME:

I do not know the man personally, nor do I believe that I know anyone who does. I've seen his work through his website and through BMEzine.com. I know "of" his personality and his outlooks only second hand and from third parties, which is never a reliable way in which to know someone, or try to gage or judge their character or intention, and in all honesty it is never really fair to try and judge anyone you have never met.

But, as I sit here, I am driven to write this as an expression of my belief, my take on the subject so to speak. And, as an ex law enforcement officer, my take on the laws and actions that have lead to his present arrest.

I read through Shannon's article on Mr.Bertrang and his present arrest and incarceration. This is in no way a response to that, it is simply my opinion. My thoughts, and another point of view to consider.

Having never had any actions or dealings with Mr.Bertrang, I have no feelings for him, one way or another, I do not dislike, nor do I like him, he is simply a person I have read about...however it does seem like he has managed to gather a great deal of hatred directed towards him, and how he lives his life and conducts his business. That, sadly, regardless of where or who you are will always make you a target.

With that said, it would seem to me, that his present situation is of his own making, and his downfall is of his own hand.

As Shannon write, most body modification takes place in a gray area, agreed, however that same statement could be applied to almost ANY aspect of day to day life, and the events we all partake in.

I think if body modification takes place in a gray area, we have ourselves, as a community to blame, and we have ourselves to look at to fix this issue...I'll get back to this idea in a moment.

Also in the article Shannon speak about entrapment, which sadly is a "darker" side to law enforcement than most in that community would like to admit. It runs back to the old argument of, how far are you willing to go to keep your streets safe at night. I personally don't believe in the idea of most entrapments or stings, I believe and have seen with my own eyes that once you move into the gray areas of the law and what society with accept, you have taken all the good you meant to do out of the whole event. And in the process possibly turn a criminal in a martyr, which is not to say I believe Mr. Bertrang to be a criminal.

Ask most cops, and they will tell you a sting or a UC, under cover, is a tricky thing, and usually in the big ones, it is run past a prosecuting attorney before it is even done.

And, as with everything in life there are "good" stings and "bad" stings, a bad sting would be when you are doing a pot buy, and you arrest the 40 year old with HIV or cancer who weighs 95 pounds and has a couple months to live at best, and just wants to smoke a joint to feel a little better, keep some food down, or forget the pain for a second, your gut, your personal feelings are that this law and this sting and this whole situation is wrong, and evil, and for a brief moment you don't like yourself too much.

Then there are the stings where you arrest a pedophile while doing a prostitution UC, those ones are good.

What I am getting at here is that, there is good and bad in all situations, even the law, and while the law is not perfect, it is not even always just, it is what we have in place to work with today, and the reason that Mr. Bertrang is sitting in jail is because he had what is known as criminal intent. Further to that, he gains sexual gratification, by his own admittance to doing something that, right or wrong is illegal.

Now, I agree with Shannon, that is we are going to look upon female circumcision as an illegal act, we should do so as well with it's male counterpart...it is a bit like saying crack is illegal but a snort of coke is ok.

But, right now, the justness so to speak of the law or even of the actions of the FBI are not in question here, what is is the actions of Mr.Bertrang.

Mr. Bertrang, was willing to conduct an illegal procedure on two minor females, and, needless to say, I am sure he would have "gotten off" on it as well, again as he has admitted before...and as is pointed out in Shannon's article as well, he "gets off" on what he does, in other words he is sexual aroused and stimulated by it, he gains sexual gratification from it.

Based on that admittance in the past, this could easily turn into a sex crime as well. Please understand that my point here is this, we would not accept a cop on the sexual assault squad getting off by being near rape or sexual abuse victims, we would not accept a plastic surgeon getting off on doing breast surgery on woman, we would not accept a priest counseling a little boy who was sexually abused, and then doing the same thing to him, or getting off on the story itself, I could go on, but you see my point, if it is wrong an illegal, let alone immoral in these professions, why on earth would we,, for a second tolerate it in a member of the body modification community, why would we thing it is ok for the practitioner to get off on it?

When we accept that behavior, we only invite ridicule and investigation.

Next there is the moral question, how old were his invented victims? I did not see mention of them in the article, but if there was parental consent involved it means without question these were minors, now, I know most studios will not pierce someone under s certain age without parental consent, and that there is an age where, even with the consent, most artists will say, sorry that is too young to make an informed choice right now, wait a bit...so how old were these victims, and if in fact they were under a certain age, does that not then bring us into another question of morality and when is enough enough?

As Shannon states, Mr,Bertrang was paid $8000 to do this procedure...too good to be true...well, if that is the case, why did Mr.Bertrang not see that? Was he too caught up in his sexual desire? His lust so to speak? I doubt it was his good honest caring nature just to want to help these girls that blinded him.

If I were the Agent, I would see greed, a sexual desire and a criminal intent, and I would do what they did, arrest him.

Granted, as all the details of this event are not known, and the full story yet to be told, this is a gray area indeed, but, from my point of view, the question is not about a just or unjust law, or even about a two sided system or a system designed to entrap or set out to catch someone...it is about mindset and intent, a criminal intent, the intent to allow greed and sexual "getting off" on it, the intent to want to do something on minors that is illegal, just because we cloud it in the shroud of modification, it does not make it right.

You might smoke pot, but if someone tried to give it to your kid you would freak right? You might have you labia cut, but if some guy wanted to do the same thing to your daughter, and you knew he was getting off on it...wouldn't you have an issue with that as well?

All a gray area right?

And this brings me back to that gray area, that area where a lot of modification lives, where a lot of the artists work, and exist.

I know part of the allure of mods is that they are in that gray area, they are in that realm of outside the norm, the run counter to society and rules and regulations imposed on us every day.

We get mods, we do it because it is our body our choice right? We get upset when the outside world with its regulations and rules and belief systems comes in and points that spotlight at us. Well maybe it is time to lobby for and put in place guideline and rules, code of conduct and regulations, that will prevent the outside from coming in, I know that sounds like us turning into them, but trust me, Shannon is right on this fact, it is only a matter of time before the spot light turns from Tom, to maybe you.

I believe what he did is wrong, if after the facts come out it is as bad as it sounds, and if he does time, if he is in jail, if he falls because of this, well, it is by his own hand. I do know though that I would not want to be a part of a community that would tolerate such actions or behaviors.

I guess, if there really is any point to this piece other than to take another look at what took place with Mr.Bertrang , based on the facts at hand right now, it is this.

We need to realize, laws or not, just or unjust, right or wrong, there simply is this fact, something's are unacceptable regardless what label we put on it, or how we choose to call it...maybe this was one of them.
 

Jerry_B

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#2
I remain nonplussed by such cases. And to me, any 'female circumcision' is not describing what's actually being done. If it were, the equivalent for males would be the removal of the whole penis, not just the foreskin. Horrendous :(
 

maureenmac1

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#3
Egypt forbids female circumcision

This has always sickened me as I have never seen any practical reason for it to be carried out.
I also fail to see any exceptional reasons for the practice to continue.


Egypt forbids female circumcision
By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC Arab Affairs Analyst



Egypt has announced that it is imposing a complete ban on female circumcision, also known as genital mutilation.
The announcement follows a public outcry after a young girl died during the operation.

A ban was introduced nearly 10 years ago but the practice continued to be allowed in exceptional circumstances. :evil:
A health ministry spokesman said no member of the medical profession would be allowed to perform the operation in public or private establishments.

Those who broke the law would be punished, the spokesman said.

Psychological violence

The new ban cancels out a provision that allowed the operation to be performed by qualified doctors in exceptional cases only.

But the death of a 12-year-old girl in Upper Egypt a few days ago triggered an angry barrage of appeals from human rights groups to both the government and the medical profession to act swiftly and stamp out the practice.

The doctor who carried out the operation has been arrested.

Egypt's first lady, Susanne Mubarak, has spoken out strongly against female circumcision, saying that it is a flagrant example of continued physical and psychological violence against children which must stop.

The country's top religious authorities also expressed unequivocal support for the ban.

The Grand Mufti and the head of the Coptic Church said female circumcision had no basis either in the Koran or in the Bible.

Recent studies have shown that some 90% of Egyptian women have been circumcised.

The practice is common among Muslim as well as Christian families in Egypt and other African countries, but is rare in the Arab world.

It is believed to be part of an ancient Egyptian rite of passage and is more common in rural areas.

Conservative families believe that circumcision is a way of protecting the girls' chastity.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/w ... 251426.stm

Published: 2007/06/28 19:32:18 GMT

© BBC MMVII
 

JamesWhitehead

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#6
This seems to be the only thread specifically devoted to FGM, though much more discussion can be found under Penis Cutting etc.

This post is not about Egypt but the scale of this hidden practice in the UK:

Guardian Article

" . . . The NSPCC is launching a helpline on Monday to protect children from FGM after research found that more than 1,700 victims were referred to specialist clinics in the past two years, likely to be a fraction of the true figure for women affected. The youngest victim was seven . . .

'"We need real proactive work from the government on this," she said. "If this were happening in mainstream society the government would be moving heaven and earth to stop it. The helpline is a great first step but now we need a national plan – we need data, we need prevention, we need a conviction and we need professionals to stop looking at this as a cultural issue and start treating it as a child protection issue.' "

The second paragraph is a quote from Efua Dorkenoo, a campaigner against FGM.

The figure in the first paragraph, remember, is of those referred to clinics. How many thousands of women are subjected to this practice? It is hardly an issue that has not received publicity in the past but it would appear to be on the rise, if anything, on account of incomers from countries where it is common.

Supposing, however, a stronger line was taken to investigating cases of FGM when they present at clinics, the effect might well be to make women reluctant to seek help from mainstream medicine. Measures in place at the moment, however, seem to suggest that the softer approach has failed to make any headway in this upsetting area.
:(

In the interests of balance:

edit 4:35 pm: I see the BBC Website has a clip of an Egyptian Sheikh defending the practice:

To Control Women's Sex Common-Sense :shock:
 

Mythopoeika

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#7
JamesWhitehead said:
edit 4:35 pm: I see the BBC Website has a clip of an Egyptian Sheikh defending the practice:

To Control Women's Sex Common-Sense :shock:
I recommend that all Muslim clerics have genital mutilation done to them. Then perhaps they may cotton on that it's a bad idea and must be banned. :twisted:
 

JamesWhitehead

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#10
The sad fact is that the defenders of genital mutilation, male and female, want their children to undergo the same operations they have suffered. :(
 
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#11
Mythopoeika said:
JamesWhitehead said:
edit 4:35 pm: I see the BBC Website has a clip of an Egyptian Sheikh defending the practice:

To Control Women's Sex Common-Sense :shock:
I recommend that all Muslim clerics have genital mutilation done to them. Then perhaps they may cotton on that it's a bad idea and must be banned. :twisted:
The majority of Muslim clerics do condemn it. It has nothing to do with Islam.

Muslim Theologians At Cairo Conference Say Female Genital Mutilation Irreconcilable With Islam
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/58468.php
 
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#12
Edit: Two old threads combined. New title. P_M

News about documentary campaign to stamp out FGM:
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/24/female-genital-mutilation-film-changing-kurdistan-law

FGM: 'It's like neutering animals' – the film that is changing Kurdistan

A film made over 10 years with the stories of girls and women affected by female genital mutilation is tackling a taboo subject

The Guardian, Maggie O'Kane and Patrick Farrelly. 24 October 2013


Link to video: FGM: the film that changed the law in Kurdistan

The story of the 10-year fight against female genital mutilation by two film-makers has been made into a hour long documentary by the Guardian and BBC Arabic and will go out across the Arab world from Friday, reaching a combined global audience of 30 million viewers. This is the Guardian's web version of that film

It started out as a film about a practice that has afflicted tens of millions of women worldwide. It culminated in a change in the law.

Ten years after they embarked on a documentary to investigate the extent of female genital mutilation in Kurdistan, two film-makers have found their work changing more than just opinions in a fiercely conservative part of the world. Partly as a result of the film, the numbers of girls being genitally mutilated in the villages and towns of Iraqi Kurdistan has fallen by more than half in the last five years.

Shara Amin and Nabaz Ahmed spent 10 years on the roads of Kurdistan speaking to women and men about the impact of female genital mutilation (FGM) on their lives, their children and their marriages. "It took a lot of time to convince them to speak to us. This was a very taboo subject. Speaking about it on camera was a very brave thing to do.

"It took us weeks, sometimes months to get them to talk and in the end it was the women that spoke out – despite the men," said Ahmed.

The result was a 50-minute film, A Handful of Ash. When it was shown in the Kurdish parliament, it had a profound effect on the lawmakers.

The film-makers' work began in 2003, shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The stories they were told had a numbing consistency. In one scene in the documentary a young mother with her children sitting beside her tells Shara that in their village: "They would just grab the little girls, take them and cut them, and the girls came back home. I can still remember I was sick, infected for three months. I could barely walk after I was cut."

A mullah tells the film-makers that "Khatana [the Kurdish term for FGM] is a duty; it is spiritually pure." That is the position of the Shafi'i school of Sunni Islam that is practised by Iraqi Kurds. It is the same branch of Islamic law that predominates in Egypt, where studies show that up to 80% of women have been mutilated. But FGM is not just confined to Muslim countries – it is practised across east and west Africa and in Indonesia.

"It is about controlling women's sexuality and keeping them under control," said Nadya Khalife, from Human Rights Watch.

There are an estimated 140 million girls and women worldwide living with the effects of FGM, the World Health Organisation estimates.

"There were a lot of kids in the room," one 18-year-old woman told the film-makers. "My mother and sister took hold of me. They were taking off my trousers and separating my legs. I screamed 'What are you doing to me?' My mother said 'nothing dear, just a little pain'. They put me on the ground and the pain started between my thighs. Everything turned dark. When they wanted to raise me to my feet, I couldn't stand. My thighs were covered in blood."

Another woman took them to her sister's grave. "One of my sisters got an infection and died. She was cut with a dirty blade. She had an infection for two days so we took her to a doctor. He couldn't treat her and she died. She is buried here."

"It's not something that families discuss. It's just something that is done, and is forgotten about," said Khalife. "Countless generations of girls were sentenced to lives lacking in sexual pleasure or fulfilment and cheerless marriages."

One Kurdish couple encountered by Amin and Ahmed illustrated this underlying sadness with extraordinary, raw honesty.

Hawa, a seamstress, and Erat, a farmer, have been married for 10 years and have three children. Hawa said she and her three sisters were mutilated at her grandmother's insistence.

"My two sisters and I, three of us, we all had khatana [cutting]. Believe me, my mother did not care about the practice, never insisted. But my grandma insisted. She would always say food and water served by their hands would be haram [impure] if the girls were not cut."

Asked about the extent of her mutilation, she said: "My husband always says 'nothing is left of you'."

Hawa's husband said FGM had destroyed his marriage. "I was not aware of this when I married her. If I had known, I swear to God even if they paid me $10,000 I would not have married her. Because it is a problem for me.

"This circumcision is similar to neutering animals," he said. "It's a major problem. There is no sensation. It feels like lying next to a cold fish."

Piroza, now 15, recalled what was done to her when she was five. "They said: 'Come here, we brought beads for you.' They took me into a room. There was an old woman. There was a razor and ash, and they cut me."

The film-makers found that when they first started the project they were visiting villages where every one of the girls had been mutilated. The Iraqi Kurdish government denied that it was widespread but the film-makers' testimonies found otherwise. In many cases, all the women in a village had been mutilated – usually between the ages of five and nine. Most alarmingly, the fall of Saddam Hussein had led to a resurgence of the practice – FGM was seen as a mark of national cultural independence for the Kurds.

The film-makers, both in their 30s and ardent campaigners against the practice, joined forces with Wadi, a small German-Iraqi non-governmental organisation dedicated to eliminating FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan, and took their campaign film to parliament. They were invited in but only female politicians turned up to the viewing. Nevertheless, the showing sparked a campaign by the Kurdish parliamentary women's committee to outlaw FGM.

It took three years and it was not until Human Rights Watch published a devastating report into the scale of FGM in Kurdistan, and pressure was applied on the Kurdish government from Brussels, that the law was implemented in 2011.

It then sparked a debate with the Muslim clergy. A key turning point was when a leading Kurdish cleric, Mullah Omar, told a conference organised by Human Rights Watch: "Female circumcision is an injustice. It is a crime against women." A fatwa, or edict, was declared against it and word began to filter down to the villages.

One midwife who practised FGM for 20 years, Pura Sewa, said: "We have been advised not to practice mutilation and we have obeyed that. They said not to mutilate or you will be taken to jail. They took away my licence and I stopped. But if they hadn't taken it away, I would still be performing khatana for Islam."

Female genital mutilation – the facts:

  • • Female genital mutilation (FGM) is carried out in 29 countries, according to the World Health Organisation. Although prevalent in many Muslim countries in the Middle East, it is also widespread in Africa and Indonesia.

    • Some 140 million girls and women globally currently live with the consequences of FGM, according to the WHO.

    • FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and the age of 15.

    • More than 18% of all FGM is performed by medical professionals – and this trend is increasing.

    • FGM varies from the the cutting the clitoris in some countries, such as Kurdistan, to removing all the external genitalia.

    • More than 66,000 women and girls living in Britain have undergone FGM, according to the NHS, but there has not been a successful UK prosecution since it was criminalised 28 years ago.

    • Human Rights Watch calls FGM a practice to control women's sexuality.

    • There are several degrees of mutilation. In the most extreme form, the sexual organs are removed and the vagina is sewn up and narrowed. It is thought to reduce a woman's libido and thus to help her resist "illicit" sexual acts.

    • Long-term consequences can include infertility and an increased risk of childbirth complications and deaths of newborns. Complications can also result in the need for later surgery. • In December 2012 the UN general assembly approved a resolution calling for the elimination of FGM.

    • In most countries the prevalence of FGM has fallen, and an increasing number of women and men where it is practised support ending the practice.
 

Quake42

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#13
The majority of Muslim clerics do condemn it. It has nothing to do with Islam.
Well, yes and no. The practice predates Islam but has survived in Islamic countries to a greater extent than in others and, whilst some clerics do condemn it, others have gone on the record as being supportive.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#14
"Nothing to do with Islam," was the title of a Spectator Blog piece immediately after the Woolwich murder

That dealt with what the writer felt to be the underlying tension between "metaphorical" Islam (good and peaceful) and fundamentalist Islam (which preaches Jihad against infidels). It is, I'm afraid, a very simplistic distinction.

Contentious issues such as the veil and FGM cannot be justified by appeal to the Quran. The relationship of FGM with Islam is problematic but it is generally acknowledged that,

"FGM is found only in or adjacent to Islamic groups (some Christians practice it to avoid damnation). This is curious, because FGM, beyond the mild sunna supposedly akin to male circumcision, is not found in most Islamic countries nor is it required by Islam. Mutilation is not practiced in Mecca or Medina, and Saudis reportedly find the custom pagan." Footnote 104 of the useful Wikipedia article

Between horrors perpetrated in the name of "verses of the sword" and atrocities conducted in the shadow of custom and tradition, the band of things which has "nothing to do with Islam" is wide and elastic. At least some Muslims do acknowledge these problems and correctly foresee that pretended blindness in the name of toleration is likely to encourage the worst and most ignorant forms of backlash. :(

edit: "band of things" in last paragraph is singular, so "has" not "have."
 
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#15
Wait for the condemnations of this culturally insensitive arrest. Whats that I hear from the SWP?

Female genital mutilation: Woman arrested at Heathrow

Female genital mutilation is estimated to have affected 66,000 women in Britain

A woman has been arrested at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation (FGM).

The 38-year-old was arrested at 18:30 BST on 8 May after she arrived at the west London airport on a flight from Sierra Leone.

A 13-year-old Sierra-Leonean girl travelling with the woman was taken into the care of social services.

The woman, who was born in Sierra Leone, is being held in custody at a west London police station.

Officers said the teenage girl was a relative of the arrested woman, but they were not disclosing how they were related.

A Nigerian woman, who officers believe could be a victim of trafficking, was also taken into the care of social services. Her age has not been established but she is believed to be about 18 or 19 years of age, police said.

An investigation has been launched by the Border Force into the suspected trafficking, which is not related to the FGM offences.

'Child abuse'
The arrests follow a week-long initiative by the Met Police, Border Force and National Crime Agency at Heathrow Airport aimed at preventing and detecting FGM.

Continue reading the main story
Female genital mutilation

FGM includes procedures that alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons
About 140 million girls and women worldwide are living with the consequences of FGM
Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility, complications in childbirth and increased risk of death for newborns
Source: World Health Organisation

Find out more from the WHO
BBC ethics guide: Female circumcision
Officers spoke to 36 people who had arrived on two flights from Nigeria and Liberia, via Sierra Leone.

The co-ordinated national week of action was in conjunction with six other UK airports and police forces: Essex, Avon and Somerset, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Sussex and West Midlands.

The project also included educational activities, including training officers and staff at Heathrow to raise awareness of FGM and identify those who might be affected, as well as checks on passengers and baggage searches.

Mandatory medical examinations
Speaking at the airport this week, Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said mandatory medical examinations to identify FGM victims may have to be considered in the UK.

"We're not getting an awful lot of referrals from the community, from medical professionals or from educational professionals," he said.

"Of course, the victims could come forward eventually. But what we do know is that's quite difficult. If you have to report against your parents, that's obviously quite a challenge."

An estimated 66,000 women in the UK have undergone FGM and more than 20,000 girls under 15 are thought to be at risk of the practice.

There have been 190 FGM referrals to the Met since 2010 and 12 arrests have been made in relation to the referrals, Scotland Yard said.
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-27348776
 
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#17
Mythopoeika said:
ramonmercado said:
Wait for the condemnations of this culturally insensitive arrest. Whats that I hear from the SWP?
What has the Socialist Workers' Party got to do with it?
Oh, you're not supposed to interfere in other cultures according to them. Maybe I'm just a bit cranky.
 
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#18
60 cases of female genital mutilation discovered in Swedish school

Up to 60 cases of genital mutilation among elementary school girls have been discovered in Norrköping in eastern Sweden since March, local media reported. Among the cases, 28 girls were subjected to the most severe form of genital mutilation.

The abuse was discovered by health services in a Norrköping school in eastern Sweden, according to a report in local newspaper Norrköpings Tidningar.

Half of the 60 cases were detected in the same year in elementary school. Twenty-eight of these girls were subjected to the most severe form of genital mutilation, when all external genitalia is removed and the genital area is sewn together, with a small opening for urinating left.

Girls exhibiting severe symptoms were the easiest to detect, Petra Blom Andersson, coordinator of the Central Student Health Service, told Norrköpings Tidningar. She added that recurring headaches and severe menstrual cramps were important signals. ...
http://rt.com/news/167368-genital-mutil ... den-girls/
 

Quake42

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#19
Vile. Poor old Sweden seems to have found itself in a the midst of a multiculti nightmare, despite having the best of intentions. :(
 

OneWingedBird

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#20
Grotesque. :(

Detection is a pretty hollow thing for those who have already been FGM'ed... even if it gives us a clearer picture of what is going on... but how to get into prevention? God only knows. :(
 

Mythopoeika

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#21
Arrest all of the parents involved.
Create a targeted program of education, with the aim of enlightening all people who are most likely to be involved in this practice. Use coercion if necessary.
Repeat ad nauseam.

Likely outcome over a long period of time will be:
(a) The people who persist will eventually leave the country
(b) The people left behind will eventually conform
(c) Fewer instances will occur because everybody will know it's evil and they are more likely to be rumbled
 
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#22
Mythopoeika said:
Arrest all of the parents involved.
Create a targeted program of education, with the aim of enlightening all people who are most likely to be involved in this practice. Use coercion if necessary.
Repeat ad nauseam.

Likely outcome over a long period of time will be:
(a) The people who persist will eventually leave the country
(b) The people left behind will eventually conform
(c) Fewer instances will occur because everybody will know it's evil and they are more likely to be rumbled
Deport all of the parents after they have finished their prison sentences. The children should be taken into care and given citizenship.
 

Mythopoeika

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#23
ramonmercado said:
Mythopoeika said:
Arrest all of the parents involved.
Create a targeted program of education, with the aim of enlightening all people who are most likely to be involved in this practice. Use coercion if necessary.
Repeat ad nauseam.

Likely outcome over a long period of time will be:
(a) The people who persist will eventually leave the country
(b) The people left behind will eventually conform
(c) Fewer instances will occur because everybody will know it's evil and they are more likely to be rumbled
Deport all of the parents after they have finished their prison sentences. The children should be taken into care and given citizenship.
I forgot that one - add it to the list!
 
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#24
Egypt faces its first FGM trial - Africa - World - The Independent

In a country where 90 per cent of women suffer this mutilation, villagers are rallying round the doctor who performed the procedure on a young girl who subsequently died

Patients still queue outside the house of Dr Raslan Fadl in the Nile delta village of Diyarb Buqtaris. In the village, many parents say that they, too, would still have their daughter operated on, despite the death of a 13-year-old girl after a procedure to mutilate her genitals in June last year.

Dr Fadl and the girl’s father are the first in Egypt to be prosecuted for the practice, which was banned in 2008. The ongoing trial is an important step in the global fight against female genital mutilation (FGM), women’s rights advocates say, but also underlines the persistence of the tradition and the difficult struggle to seek accountability for victims.

Genital cutting typically takes place between nine and 12 years old, mostly at the hands of doctors. A study has suggested that more than half of medical students support the continuation of the practice, despite the worldwide outrage it provokes.

On 6 June last year, the father of 13-year-old Suhair al-Bata’a took her to Dr Fadl for the procedure.

Suhair did not want to go, her grandmother told The Independent on Sunday last week, in an interview at the girl’s squat, thatched-roof house. “She cried, she refused,” she said. Still, her father took her, he later testified to police.

The procedure went wrong, and she was rushed to hospital. A forensic report lists the cause of her death as allergic reaction to penicillin.

Like many others, the case may never have come to light had Suhair not died, and had her father not originally told police that the doctor had performed FGM. The father later changed his story, prosecutors now claim, to say that Dr Fadl had been operating on genital warts. But activists campaigned to have the case reopened and in March the prosecution commenced.

“She was a sweet girl, like honey,” Suhair’s grandmother said, her voice cracking slightly. She has another granddaughter, 10, who is Suhair’s cousin. Would this young girl, too, be cut? “It’s up to her mother,” her grandmother said. “It is [good for girls]. Me and my five sisters were circumcised. It’s only tradition. We came into this life and our families had the custom of doing this to us.”

The family home in Diyarb Buqtaris The family home in Diyarb Buqtaris The practice is so deeply entrenched in Egypt – particularly in rural communities, but also in cities – that it is known as “the pharaonic custom”. In only three other countries is it more prevalent – Djibouti, Guinea and Somalia.

The court case underscores a broader cultural clash between modernity and tradition. In the West, FGM is considered abhorrent, and prominent figures from Hillary Clinton to Angelina Jolie have condemned it. But in Egypt, the act is not universally dismissed. More than 90 per cent of women in Egypt have undergone the procedure, according to Unicef.

In rural Egypt, in the poor and less well-educated families among whom the practice is most common, it is supposed to curb women’s sexual appetites, and keep them faithful. In fact, sexual desire is undiminished, but sex becomes painful. Women who were subjected to the procedure describe pain and often prolonged bleeding, infections and trauma. The World Health Organisation estimates that 125 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to FGM with “no health benefits” – with procedures mostly carried out between infancy and 15.

In Egypt, FGM is “supported by both men and women, usually without question, and anyone departing from the norm may face condemnation, harassment and social exclusion”, Unicef said in 2010.

Although poorer communities associate genital cutting with religious values, Egypt’s leading Muslim religious official says that it is forbidden. The Muslim Brotherhood officially backs the prohibition, although some members say the procedure is acceptable under certain circumstances.

In 2012, an official Brotherhood website published an article on FGM stating: “Where it does have to be performed, its advantages are that it reduces sexual arousal to a rate that does not exceed the normal average at that time and causes a woman many problems because of her lack of satiation and frequent arousal.” ...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 54247.html
 

Quake42

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#25
A new report on this dreadful practice - there does now seem to be some impetus towards stopping this in the UK.

Failure to stop FGM is a 'national scandal', say MPs

The failure to tackle female genital mutilation (FGM) is a "national scandal" with as many as 170,000 victims in the UK, MPs have said.

Failures by ministers, police and other agencies have led to the "preventable mutilation of thousands of girls", the Home Affairs Committee said.

It blamed a "misplaced concern for cultural sensitivities" for inaction, and called for a national action plan.

The government said it was working to end "this terrible form of abuse".

The report called for greater anonymity for victims and protection orders to prevent girls from being taken abroad.
Continues:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28127678

It strikes me that the easiest solution is to make this an offence of struct liability. If a child is mutilated in this way then their parent or carer is automatically guilty of aiding and abetting GBH.

"Working with communities" hasn't worked. The practice is too embedded and health professionals, teachers and other professionals too paralysed with fear that their career will be destroyed by accusations of racism to do anything about these poor girls. Convict and imprison the parents and depending on their immigration status, deport them afterwards. A few headline cases would wipe out this practice rapidly.
 

Analogue Boy

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#26
Agreed it's hideous, nasty and something should be done but I can't help feeling its news prominence over the last few days is being held up as a shield for the destruction of the dossier of the Westminster paedophiles.
 

Cochise

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#27
That one still seems to be rumbling on, Jimv1. There were further disclosures today in the Telegraph.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... -told.html

As I've said before, all these things whether among ordinary citizens, celebrities, religious fanatics, or senior members of the establishment need investigating and dealing with - we must have equality under the law. People like ourselves keeping up pressure is likely the only way that we can make the PTB's understand that is what the public demand.

For whatever reasons, over the last couple of years the façade of the establishment has cracked, and we need to keep pushing the crack further apart. Although the public has been relatively supine for a couple of decades, I think there is now a groundswell of real anger and concern out there.

The rise of UKIP and other fringe parties is an indicator that if the establishment does not wash its dirty linen and adjust its attitude on certain 'multicultural' issues , the public will turn to untried and probably unpleasant alternatives to 'get something done'. As we know from history, such radical changes rarely result in change for the better, but equally a system of government that is stagnant and unresponsive also forces unpredictable change.

edit: Also

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... d-man.html

on the child sex ring dossier. I should probably post those links under Yewtree as well?
 

Quake42

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#28
Isis orders all women and girls in Mosul to undergo FGM,

The "fatwa" issued by the Sunni Muslim fighters would potentially affect 4 million women and girls, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock, told reporters in Geneva by videolink from Irbil.

"This is something very new for Iraq, particularly in this area, and is of grave concern and does need to be addressed," she said.

"This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists," she added.

No one was immediately available for comment from Isis, which has led an offensive through northern and western Iraq.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/j ... m-mosul-un

The latest from the thugs in ISIS. I am sure that all those right on people protesting about Israel in cities all over the world last weekend will be out in force to show their anger at at this latest horror from the region.

I shan't hold my breath, though.
 

rynner2

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#30
Doubts grow over Isis 'FGM edict' in Iraq

Doubts are growing about the authenticity of an edict attributed to the Sunni Islamist group Isis controlling the Iraqi city of Mosul about female genital mutilation (FGM).

A top UN official quoted from a statement saying that Isis wanted all females aged between 11 and 46 in the northern city to undergo the procedure.
Jacqueline Badcock said the decree was of grave concern.
But media analysts say the decree seen on social media may be a fake.
It has typos and language mistakes and is signed by "The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant", a name the group no longer uses, instead referring to itself as the Islamic State.

Some bloggers suggest that the alleged fatwa, which has been circulated on social media for about two days, may have been aimed at discrediting Isis.
Iraq is facing a radical Isis-led insurgency, with Mosul and other cities in the north-west under militant control.

The ritual cutting of girls' genitals is practised by some African, Middle Eastern and Asian communities in the belief it prepares them for adulthood or marriage.
FGM poses many health risks to women, including severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and increased risk of newborn deaths in childbirth.

The UN General Assembly approved a resolution in December 2012 calling for all member states to ban the practice.

Earlier, Ms Badcock warned that the alleged Isis edict could affect nearly four million women and girls in and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
The UN's resident and humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq said the practice "is something very new for Iraq... and does need to be addressed".
She was talking to reporters via video link from the Kurdish provincial capital, Irbil.

Jenan Moussa, a correspondent for Dubai-based broadcaster Al AAan TV, said in a tweet that her contacts in Mosul had not heard of the edict.

Isis militants seized Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, in June, and have since taken over areas of the north-west and closed in on cities near Baghdad.
The group forced Christians in Mosul out of the city earlier this week and daubed their houses with the Arabic letter N to mark them out as Christians, apparently confiscating their properties, BBC Arab affairs editor Lina Sinjab says.

Ms Badcock said only 20 families from the ancient Christian minority now remain in Mosul, which Isis has taken as the capital of its Islamic state.
Thousands have fled into Kurdish-controlled territory in the north.

Some of the Christians who remained have converted to Islam, while others have opted to stay and pay the "jiyza", the tax imposed by Isis on non-Muslims, the UN official added.
Isis announced last month that it was creating an Islamic caliphate covering the land it holds in Iraq and Syria.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28466434
 
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