Dublin couple sentenced to long jail terms for female genital mutilation

February 10, 2020 • 12:30 pm

It’s been hard in the West to really punish people for female genital mutilation (FGM); for example, in a recent and widely reported case, a doctor performing FGM in the U.S. was largely exculpated because the judge ruled that federal laws prohibiting FGM were unconstitutional.) And, I suppose, there’s the bias that this barbaric procedure is an aspect of “culture”; as the doctor (a Muslim woman) argued, she was simply following a “religious custom”.

While FGM is widespread in Africa and Asia, it’s largely, as Heather Hastie pointed out in 2017, a Muslim practice—almost entirely so in Asia. Of the four schools of Sunni Islam, as Heather notes in another post, “Two of them, the Hanbali and Shafi’i schools, consider FGM obligatory, while the other two, the Hanafi and Maliki schools, recommend it.” This is one of the ways that religion poisons everything.

But now, as the BBC reports, we have a first, at least from Ireland: two parents were jailed for a long time for a serious incident of FGM practiced on their 21-month old daughter. Click on the screenshot to read:

The father, 37, was sentenced to five years and six months in prison, while his wife, a decade younger, got 4 years and nine months. Their identities are being withheld to protect the daughter, though their origin is given as African (no religion specified). The details are horrifying, and remember—this is in Ireland! As the BBC reports:

The couple, of African origin, were also found guilty on one count of child cruelty on the same date.

The trial heard they did not carry out the FGM themselves but had “aided and abetted, counselled or procured” it.

They subsequently attended hospital with their daughter, claiming the child sustained her injuries by falling backwards onto a toy.

Several medical experts disputed this account.

Paediatric surgeon Sri Paran told the court the child would have gone into shock within 20 hours had her bleeding not been stopped.

He concluded her injury could not have been accidental when he performed a procedure to stop her bleeding and referred the case to the Garda (Irish police) for investigation.

Sentencing the couple, Judge Elma Sheahan said the offence had resulted in serious harm to the child, who may suffer psychological or psycho-sexual effects in the future.

She said the couple had shown a lack of remorse and had not provided any insight into what had occurred.

This is but one instance where religious (or cultural) “customs” must bow before the secular laws of the country in which they’re practiced. And the sentence in this case is sufficiently long that it should serve as a deterrent. The issue is, as always, since this is done on young girls and often in a religious community, it’s difficult to catch. The children themselves can’t report their own mutilation, and others are unwilling to do so.

15 thoughts on “Dublin couple sentenced to long jail terms for female genital mutilation

  1. Although predominantly practised in Africa and Asia in Islamic communities, I remember hearing white American former members of fundamentalist Christian sects discussing their own experience of FGM on BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour not too long ago. I’ll try to find the link.

  2. My own group, the Hot Dog Peoples Intersectional Liberation Front, will of course protest the Dublin court decision as “Islamophobic”, and having a “chilling” effect on multiculturalism.

    Our next project will be a revival of the Aztec custom of human sacrifice, once central to the Xipe Totec faith community. We hope to see new university departments of Xipe Totec Studies (perhaps subsidized through Templeton grants), which will combine religious principles with a revival of customs and rituals that were suppressed and marginalized by European imperialism. We will campaign for schools in the West to teach the positive side of flaying and bloodletting; and for the general celebration of a Human Sacrifice Day, on the same date as the ancient Aztec flaying festival.

    1. Your ideas intrigue me. I would like to bring back ritualized cannibalism, something long practiced among ancient celtic peoples and unfairly repressed by the Roman imperialists…

  3. It’s estimated that tens of thousands of girls in the West have been subjected to it, but Western countries have been squeamish about enacting or enforcing laws against it.

    It’s true in some sense that the prohibition is a cultural bias. It’s hard to claim we’re taking a principled stance. But the important question is “Where do we go from here?” Those who want to protect children find themselves in conflict with those who want to protect religion (especially Islam), and the latter camp has been gaining strength of late. If police and social workers in the UK can turn a blind eye to child rape by Muslim grooming gangs for fear of being called “racist”, they’ll have a hard time prosecuting FGM.

    It’s heartening to see this result out of Ireland. We’ll see if it becomes part of a new trend or remains an outlier.

  4. I suppose the child should be grateful that the parents took her to a hospital once they realized that their back alley FGM practitioner botched the job.

    I wonder if in the short term this will encourage like minded parents to avoid medical care even if it leads to the death of their child, or will it have the intended and hoped for effect of deterring them from FGM in the first place.

    It would be so nice if we could “fix” people like this instead of merely using them to deter others after the fact of their own crime. Such knowledge / technology would surely be among the most beneficial ever produced.

    1. FGM is a classic case of “religion poisons everything”. FGM was around long before Islam, and was/is practiced by many African cultures. However, as it’s become recognized that it has negative health consequences for women, local doctors and other health workers have been able to work with local leaders to stop the practice. Except, that is, when Islam has become a part of the local culture. Then it is seen as a necessary part of practicing the religion and therefore unable to be stopped.

      I’m glad Ireland has taken this step. Hopefully it will give courage to authorities in other countries to do the same. No one wants to be the first in the current environment because it’s too easy for the woke to yell “Islamophobia”, especially when a country has a right-wing government. A prosecution in the US, for example, would be touted by the far left as more Trump bigotry.

      I know FGM is illegal in NZ, including if a child is taken out of the country for the procedure to be done. There’s never been a prosecution but I have no doubt it’s happening. (I worked in the health system for 10+ years.) I also know there’s a lot of work being done quietly by health workers with Muslim women, and they are making progress behind the scenes. It will take time to change attitudes, but probably not as long as we imagine.

    2. Such knowledge / technology would surely be among the most beneficial ever produced.

      And scary, I suppose, given that many of the people being “fixed” wouldn’t think they were broken.

    3. Child won’t be grateful though that she has to live with a permanent disability for the rest of her life. Removal of the clitoris, labia folds, making the vagina entrance smaller, is supposed to make her more “attractive” to a male suitor. No regard given to her discomfort and a higher probability of death in childbirth. Her religion and parents will brainwash her into feeling grateful though. I believe if such operations (male or female circumcisions) are desired then leave it to the individual to make that decision when they are an adult, of at least 18 years of age

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