Michigan Doctor Charged With Performing Female Genital Mutilations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC)

APR 13 2017, 8:22 PM ET

Michigan Doctor Charged With Performing Female Genital Mutilations

A Michigan doctor has become the first to be charged under federal law for allegedly performing female genital mutilation on several girls, ranging from 6 to 8 years old, officials said Thursday.

A federal complaint lodged against emergency room physician Jumana Nagarwala alleges the doctor was performing the procedure, where part or all of the female genitalia is removed, on numerous girls out of a medical office in Livonia, Michigan.

Nagarwala is charged with female genital mutilation, a five-year felony, and transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, a 10-year felony, according to the complaint.

Related: Hospital Shut Down After Egyptian Girl Dies During Circumcision

This is believed to be the first case brought under a law passed in 1996 and amended in 2012, which criminalizes female genital mutilation, according to the Department of Justice.

“Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls. It is also a serious federal felony in the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch in a statement. “The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law.

According to the complaint, federal officials launched an investigation after being tipped off that Nagarwala performed the procedure on two 7-year-old girls who were brought by their families from Minnesota for the procedure.

The Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in Washington. Andrew Harnik / AP file

Phone records and surveillance tapes linked the families of the girls to Nagarwala, and when questioned the girls’ parents admitted to law enforcement that they traveled to see the doctor for “extra cleansing of skin.”

A medical examination on the girls showed abnormal genitalia, and one of the girls said “her parents told her that the procedure is a secret and she is not supposed to talk about it,” the complaint alleges.

Further investigation found other children in Michigan were also seen by Nagarwala from 2005 to 2007, according to the complaint. Some of the parents of those children have admitted to having the procedure done by the Michigan doctor.

Nagarwala, who couldn’t be reached for comment, allegedly told investigators she was “aware the procedure was illegal” but denied ever performing them.

“The allegations against the defendant in this investigation are made even more deplorable, given the defendant’s position as a trusted medical professional in the community,” said Special Agent in Charge Francis in a statement.

Nagarwala is listed on staff at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Michigan, but the hospital said the physician was on “administrative leave” in a statement on Thursday.

“The alleged criminal activity did not occur at any Henry Ford facility. We would never support or condone anything related to this practice,” said David Olejarz, a hospital spokesman.

Image: Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit
Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Benjamin Beytekin / dpa via AP

Female genital mutation is performed to make a girl more acceptable in certain communities and is thought to increase her eligibility for marriage by ensuring her virginity in many cultures, according to human rights organization Equality Now.

An estimated 200 million women and girls have been subjected to the procedure, according to the World Health Organization. The practice is more prevalent in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but has picked up momentum in the United States.

“Approximately 513,000 women and girls in the United States were at risk for [genital mutilation of circumcision] or its consequences in 2012 which was more than three times higher than the earlier estimate, based on 1990 data,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Related: Horrific Taboo: Female Circumcision on the Rise in U.S.

“This is a form of child abuse,” said Shelby Quast, director of Equality Now’s Americas Office. “We are encouraged seeing a doctor charged with FGM, because this will have a big impact on others who are performing this illegal act,” she said.

“This sends a message to other doctors that if you violate the law, you will be arrested, and you will be prosecuted.”

Ten U.S. States Are Trying To Make Peaceful Protest A Criminal Offence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF EVAN GREER’S WEBSITE AND FFTF NEWS)

 

Hi,

Ten states have legislation pending to criminalize some peaceful protest. [1]

80,000 of us have already spoken up about a bill in Washington state, in which any protesters deemed “disruptive” could be charged with “economic terrorism.”[2] But the idea is spreading — in Missouri, wearing a hood at a protest would be considered “criminal identity concealment”; in North Dakota, drivers would be allowed to run over and kill a protester with no legal liability, as long as it was done “negligently.”[3]

These bills are an urgent threat to free speech and patriotic dissent. If we speak up now and raise the alarm, we can make them politically toxic and protect the right to protest.

Sign the petition to stop laws that attack our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly!

No matter what your cause is, we should all have the basic right to speak out — and lots of people have been using it. But powerful and corrupt institutions are threatened by people getting together to make their voices heard, that’s why they want to silence them. So they’re trying to insulate themselves from the public by making it effectively too dangerous to actually use our constitutional right to free speech.

The ten states already considering these bills are Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia, and Washington [4] — click through for links to each bill. Lawmakers seeing these bills fly under the radar could get the wrong idea. We’ve got to speak up now to make sure our ability to speak up on any issue is not silenced.

Authorities argue that these laws are necessary to protect the public from radical protesters. But these laws are not even written to do that — they’re so vague that they could criminalize completely nonviolent protest, or leave it to local authorities to pick and choose the groups they want to silence. Any one of these laws even getting serious debate in a state house is a threat to our freedom to express ourselves, online and offline, everywhere.

Sign the petition to reject laws that criminalize protest!

Fight for the Future exists to support the Internet’s ability to do good. So let’s come together as Internet users to defend our rights.

Sincerely,
Evan
[1] The Intercept – https://theintercept.com/2017/01/23/lawmakers-in-eight-states-have-proposed-laws-criminalizing-peaceful-protest/

[2] Fight for the Future – https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/urgent-new-law-would-charge-protesters-with-terrorism/

[3] The Intercept – see [1]

[4] NPR – http://www.npr.org/2017/01/31/512636448/bills-across-the-country-could-increase-penalties-for-protesters

 

How Somali Immigrants Are Revitalizing Main Street America

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

DEC 1 2016, 9:10 AM ET

How Somali Immigrants Are Revitalizing Small towns Main Street America

There’s a mom and pop grocery store in Willmar, Minnesota that carries a few items you won’t find in the freezer aisle at any Wal-Mart. Like cubed camel meat.

“We chopped it and we weigh it. You can’t get it anywhere except us,” said Abdilahi Omar. He’s the owner of Ainu Shams Grocery, which also sells goat meat, ghee, and Ethiopian flatbread.

In recent years, the arrival of thousands of Somali immigrants from East Africa has reshaped the Main Street in this tiny agricultural town and many more throughout the state. These refugees are opening businesses in once empty storefronts and introducing their customs to new customers in places once only found in America’s inner cities, where newcomers like these have traditionally settled upon arrival.

Owner of Ainu Shams Grocery in Downtown Willmar, Abdilahi Omar, 43, plans to expand his Somali imports grocery to a larger space. Ken Smith

“If you want to know what Minnesota will look like in 20 years, go to Willmar,” said Ken Warner, President of the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

Redefining the Demographic

On two square blocks along Litchfield Avenue, Willmar’s otherwise sleepy main street, Somali women run errands while talking on cell phones tucked into their hijabs and men in traditional hats called kufi sip coffee at a local café called Bihi’s.

According to the Minnesota State Census, the official Somali population here is 1,500 — though informal estimates put that number at over 2,000. Combined with the city’s Latino population, the two groups now make up close to 25 percent of Willmar’s population, which is still dominated by farmers of Swedish and Norwegian origin.

The days of family farms have passed here. Many of the large agribusinesses that have since taken their place now depend on immigrant labor.

From Civil War to Jennie-O

The first wave of Somalis came to Minnesota as refugees in the 1990s after the outbreak of civil war in their homeland. After settling in the Twin Cities, many moved to Willmar, where they found work at the local Hormel-owned Jennie-O turkey processing plant.

Today over 20 businesses in and around Main Street are Somali-owned. Many of those have used community-based financing which complies with Islamic law prohibiting the collection or payment of interest.

Despite religious and cultural differences, there are many things these Somali immigrants share with their neighbors, said Abdirizak Mahboub, a local entrepreneur here.

“We speak the language. We are God-loving people, you know, in our own perspective. We work hard,” said Mahboub, 56, who owns an interpreting agency that employs over 30 translators and interpreters and has contracts with area hospitals, courts, and law firms.

On his desk, Mahboub displays photos of his two children, both of whom grew up here and graduated from Willmar High. Without the children of immigrants like Mahboub, Willmar’s school district would have had a net loss of over 1,000 students in the school system. Now, the children of Somali and Latino immigrants represent 50 percent of the district’s population.

“That is our future. We need to embrace the diversity that will be coming in our future workforce,” said Aaron Backman, the director of Willmar’s Economic Development Commission.

Related: Trump Immigration Adviser Wrote the Book on Muslim Registry

No one is pretending that assimilation has come easy here. But there are signs that Willmar’s youngest residents are embracing both cultures. Step inside the Somali Star Restaurant and you might meet Hassan Yusuf, the 8-year-old son of owner, Bashir. Ask him his favorite food, and he won’t say camel meat.

“McDonald’s,” he says with a smile.

His proud father patted his boy on the head — and winced, just a little bit.

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