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Female genital mutilation may cost parents custody rights

Female genital mutilation may cost parents custody rights

Michigan is in the midst of a child abuse crisis that could end with a number of parents losing their parental rights.

At the heart of the scandal is a doctor who conspired with parents and at least one other medical professional to perform female genital mutilation (FGM) on their daughters — a practice that is traditional in the Dawoodi Bohra sect of the Shia Muslim religion but against the law in the United States. FGM is considered physically and emotionally dangerous and leaves victims with lifelong problems. The procedure is supposed to suppress a female’s sexual desire so that she’ll remain pure before marriage and faithful after — however victims often end up with chronic urinary tract problems and pain. As adults, they can even suffer childbirth complications. FGM is considered an act of extreme child abuse.

The doctor who was initially accused of performing the procedure on several girls at the behest of their families has been jailed and could serve life in prison on the combination of charges she faces. In addition, Child Protective Services has already filed the necessary paperwork and requested a hearing to terminate her parental rights. She has both a son and a daughter, and the daughter is apparently already a victim of FGM.

The doctor who loaned out his clinic so the procedures could be performed faces conspiracy charges, along with his wife. His wife was present during the FGM and held the hands of the little girls as they were cut. At least six other girls in the area who belong to families of the same sect have been subjected to FGM. The doctor and wife team who provided the clinic space for the procedure and the parents of all the injured girls may lose the custody of their children as well, if not their parental rights.

While the Indian leader of the sect has emphasized the necessity of FGM as a matter of religion, the religion’s authorities in the United States have issued letters to members of their mosques advising families to follow the law instead.

This case is an example of how religious practices and family law can collide. It’s important to understand that religious freedom in the United States still does not permit anyone to violate the laws against child abuse.

If you need help with a custody issue, seek an attorney’s assistance as soon as possible.

Source: Detroit Patch, “Nagarwala, Accused Of Genital Cutting, May Lose Parental Rights,” Beth Dalbey (Patch National Staff), May 10, 2017

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