A Michigan grand jury recently indicted two Michigan doctors and a medical office manager for allegedly removing part of young girls’ clitorises. Shannon Smith, an attorney for Dr. Jumana Nagarwala argued that her client was being persecuted for her religion and it was part of a “religious practice” for the community.
The head of a Christian legal organization explained to The Daily Caller News Foundation why the religious freedom clause does not apply in the case of female genital mutilation, and will likely fail to provide legal cover in these cases.
“It’s not an absolute right that just because someone has a religious belief, they’re protected to do it. And it’s subject to when there’s a compelling state interest to the contrary,” Brad Dacus, head of the Pacific Justice Institute, explained to The DCNF.
The court usually allows religious accommodations in medical situations, Dacus went on, but not if the medical procedure permanently harms a person or causes death.
“Here, we are dealing with women who are having a procedure on their body that has no medical justification and in fact, is harmful to their body,” Dacus said to The DCNF.
Female genital mutilation performers usually try to justify their practice by comparing it to male circumcision. There are, however, no similarities between the two procedures, Dacus said.
“Male circumcision has actually proven established medical benefits to the individual as well as to their future mate. It doesn’t inhibit the function of the organ and it doesn’t deprive the male the pleasure associated with sexual intimacy,” Dacus explained. Female genital mutilation doesn’t meet those standards, Dacus added.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a refugee and female genital mutilation survivor, explained the five types of mutilation and how the severity of it cannot be compared to male circumcision in a Friday op-ed.
“The aim of FGM in all its forms is to control female sexuality. The clitoris is removed to take physical pleasure from sex and reduce the libido,” she wrote. “The consequences of FGM are ongoing psychological and physical harms from infections to fistulas and even death.”
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