Lawyers defending the Michigan doctors charged with female genital mutilation in April plan to argue that the practice is a religious right in the upcoming trial.
Defense lawyers will try to show that the doctors did not actually cut the young girls’ vagina, but nicked them instead, reports the Independent.
“Will jurors have an initial bias on what happened here? They probably will. But most jurors will really want to do what’s right,” Mary Chartier, a defense lawyer for one of the Michigan doctors, explained. “I think we can convince 12 people that they did not violate the law. They just didn’t commit the crime.”
Two Detroit, Mich. doctors and one of their wives were charged with conspiracy, female genital mutilation and aiding and abetting. The young girls they mutilated now have scarring on their clitorises and minor labias, court documents maintain. (RELATED: Husband And Wife Arrested For Performing Female Genital Mutilation At Detroit-Area Clinic)
One of the girls told FBI investigators that she screamed out in pain during the procedure, while another young girl said she couldn’t walk for a few days after having her clitoris mutilated.
The lawyers will also try to show the jury that the defendants are being persecuted because of their religion.
“We know there is female genital mutilation. No one is saying it doesn’t exist. But what we’re saying is this procedure does not qualify as FGM,” Chartier went on. “And even if it did, it would be exempt because it would violate their First Amendment rights. They believe that if they do not engage in this then they are not actively practicing their religion.”
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