The subject of female genital mutilation is one that has received a lot of air time in Michigan in 2017, and something that we’ve discussed several times already. With several instances being discovered and investigated in the Detroit area this year already, this subject is now a hot button here in the great lakes state. However, the response has been a bipartisan coming-together of legislators who are hoping to ensure that it never happens here again.
Just in case you need a refresher – 44-year-old Jumana Nagarwala, a former emergency doctor at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, was accused of performing genital cuttings on two young girls from Minnesota. The girls explained during interviews with Homeland Security agents and CPS workers, that they had been taken to ‘the doctor’, where they lay on an examination table while Nagawala performed the procedure.
Since the first two victims shared their testimony with authorities, other potential victims were located. It was also later discovered that Nagarwala was not alone in performing the alleged procedures. According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, of Farmington Hills, and his wife were also present when the procedures were performed. Dr. Attar is also the owner of the clinic where the young girls were brought to be cut.
The results of these allegations have been ruinous for everyone involved. In addition to the loss of their respective jobs, and the criminal charges brought against them, there is the issue of their children. The families, who come from both Wayne and Oakland counties, are facing termination of their parental rights. This means that not only will their children be removed by CPS, but that they will no longer have any rights to those children.
All three adults have also since been charged with Performing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on Minors, among other charges. Female genital mutilation has been illegal under federal law in the United States since 1996. However, in 2013 that law was amended to include what is sometimes called “vacation cutting”, which refers to taking a minor out of the country to have the practice performed in another country.
While the US outlaws this practice, however, Michigan didn’t have any laws on the books at the time. This was quickly rectified by the legislature. A number of bills were introduced, making FGM in any format a 15 year felony in Michigan, and were pushed through the House and Senate with unprecedented speed, receiving wide bipartisan support. They were signed into law by Governor Snyder in early July 2017.
But while the new laws made FGM illegal in Michigan, and outlined the harsh penalties involved, there was no mention made of what would happen to the victims. Or even whether or not the parents who had advocated for FGM for their daughters would have sustained contact with their children after the fact. Michigan House Representative Peter Lucido is hoping to change that.
Lucido has crafted several bills that would make FGM illegal in Michigan for any reason, including religious and cultural ones. According to Lucido, “We are in America, We are not in a foreign country.” The bill, which passed the House on Thursday, would take away the parental rights of anyone who allowed a physicians to perform female genital mutilation on their daughter/s. House Bill 4716 passed 89-16 in the House, and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
This situation is a classic example of how difficult and confusing it can be when one person’s cultural or religious beliefs collide with another’s. What is viewed as acceptable, or even necessary in one part of the world, may be considered a crime in another part. With that in mind, if you have any questions about Michigan law and how it may affect your religious and cultural practices, please contact the experienced child abuse defense attorneys here at The Kronzek Firm. We are here to help you.