Friday, November 28, 2014

CAIRO: Doctor acquitted of genital cutting death

Associated Press
November 20, 2014

Egypt acquits doctor in female genital mutilation

by Maggie Michael
CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Thursday acquitted a doctor charged with performing female genital mutilation that led to a 13-year-old girl's death in a Nile Delta village, the country's first trial on charges of breaking the ban on the practice.

The verdict surprised activists against the practice, who had been hoping for a conviction and tough sentence to serve as a deterrent for doctors and families. Egypt has one of the highest rates of female genital mutilation in the world and criminalized the practice in 2008, but it remains widespread.

The court in the Nile Delta Province of Dakahliya ruled that the doctor, Raslan Fadl, and the father of Sohair el-Batea, the girl who died, were not guilty on charges of breaking the ban on the practice, said Reda el-Danbouki, a lawyer involved in bringing the case to trial. The judge did not immediately explain the verdict.

The judge also dropped a charge of manslaughter because the family and the doctor had earlier agreed to reconcile, el-Danbouki said. The family was paid 60,000 pounds, or about $8,500, in compensation.

El-Danbouki said he is coordinating with rights groups to appeal the verdict.

Sohair's family initially filed a police report saying she died as a result of female genital mutilation, but changed their story after reconciling with the doctor, said el-Danbouki. The case came to trial only after significant pressure from rights groups, he added.

The lawyer said that the judge ignored all medical reports that proved the girl underwent female genital mutilation, ignored a Health Ministry decision to shut down the doctor's clinic because it violated medical standards, and ignored the law itself.

"On personal level, I am shocked," he said.

Earlier this month the Associated Press visited Fadl's village and found that the doctor was still practicing in the same building.

Atef Aboul Einein, another lawyer who followed the case, said "this opens the door for any doctor to perform the same procedure without fear of being held accountable and in absence of any deterrence."

More than 90 percent of Egyptian women are estimated to have undergone the procedure, which in Egypt generally involves the cutting off of all or part of the clitoris and sometimes the labia. In a conservative society, it is believed to control a young woman's sexual appetite.

It is practiced in 29 countries, most in East and West Africa, but also in Iraq and Yemen. It is practiced among both Muslims and Christians. Rights groups see it as a way to control female sexuality that causes physical and psychological damage.

Earlier story

LONDON: No charges in 10 out of 12 female cutting cases

Evening Standard
November 17, 2014

Fight against FGM suffers a blow as more cases are dropped without charges

by Martin Bentham
Hopes of a landmark first British prosecution for the female genital mutilation of a child were dealt a blow today, after the number of suspected “cutting” cases over which no charges will be brought rose to double figures.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it had decided that “no further action” could be taken in 10 out of 12 cases referred to it by police, and only two files were still being considered for possible criminal charges.

It said that reasons for vetoing prosecution included the reluctance of one victim to testify against a 35-year-old suspect from London. A gap in the 1985 law banning FGM in England and Wales made it impossible to prosecute a Somali woman aged 40 who allegedly subjected her daughter to mutilation during a holiday in her homeland.

Three other women, two of whom were arrested at Heathrow, escaped charges because items they possessed — which police believed were going to be used for cutting — could also be used for other “traditional practices” that were lawful.

A 38-year-old London man who threatened to inflict FGM has been told he will not be charged because police were unable to show that he intended to put his words into action.

News that so many investigations have failed to produce prosecutions will disappoint campaigners, and reinforce concerns that existing measures to combat FGM are inadequate. They will also raise fears about the ability of the Metropolitan police — whose detectives are facing a growing burden from historical child sex abuse cases — to overcome the difficulty of obtaining proof to bring offenders to justice.

Ministers have already responded to the lack of charges by announcing a raft of legal reforms, including anonymity for victims and a new duty on parents to prevent mutilation. These are currently passing through Parliament as part of the Serious Crime Bill.

Today the Crown Prosecution Service and Scotland Yard vowed to do all in their power to charge offenders.

A CPS spokeswoman said FGM had “devastating consequences for girls and women” and it welcomed the government’s action to strengthen the law, in response to recommendations from Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders. “The proposed changes [will mean] there will be a positive duty on parents or carers to prevent their child from being mutilated, and a positive duty on medical and healthcare professionals to report FGM and people at risk from it,” the spokeswoman said.

“The changes will extend our powers to prosecute for actions committed overseas; enable us to work with police to build stronger cases; and give those that inflict such cruelty on women and girls fewer places to hide.”

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said the Met “remains absolutely resolute in its efforts to detect and prevent FGM”, and was working with heath, education and other professionals to ensure that girls at risk and victims were identified.

She added: “FGM is a hidden crime. It is a taboo subject within families and practising communities, making it very difficult for police to detect. We are now focusing on trying to secure the information about those committing the offences so there is less of a reliance on the victim giving evidence — often against their loved ones.”

Two people, doctor Dhanuson Dharmasena, 32, and another man who cannot be named, have been charged with FGM offences over the alleged mutilation of a woman who had just given birth at The Whittington Hospital in Archway. Both deny the allegations and are due to stand trial in January at Southwark Crown Court.

Anyone who has been subjected to FGM or who is at risk should contact the police on 999 or Project Azure officers on 0207 161 2888. They can also call the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

TOBAGO: Mother wants answers about circumcision botch

TT online (Triindad & Tobago)
November 19, 2014

Tobago mom wants answers after botched circumcision

by
A Tobago woman is calling on THA Health Secretary Claudia Groome-Duke and Medical Chief of Staff at the Scarborough General Hospital, Dr. Nathaniel Duke, to provide her with an update on a botched circumcision on her son which took place 17 months ago.

Mrs. Jessica Roberts explained that she and her husband took their then four year old son to the Scarborough General Hospital to have a planned circumcision done.

However, approximately 15 minutes into the surgery, they heard the little boy screaming and went to see what was happening.

"To my surprise, when I pushed the door and went in to ask if they were ready for me, it was shocking to see that my son, apparently came out of the circumcision before time. Apparently the anesthesia wore off and the doctors were trying to dress the area while he was fully awake."

Mrs. Roberts recalled that doctors told her she had to leave the room and when she saw her son 20 minutes later, he was bleeding uncontrollably.

The doctors told her that the boy would have to be sedated again for them to operate further.
Eventually the area was stitched but Mrs. Roberts questioned whether interns or junior doctors operated on her son since the senior doctor was absent.

"When Dr. Bell came in, he told us that the problem was our son, he was not keeping himself still when he was actually supposed to be sedated to do it. [Blame the victim! What four-year-old would keep still for that?] The doctor who stitched up our son came to us and said, you know what, he apologised and he said it was not his fault, an error was made and everyone makes mistakes."

... the boy's parents made a complaint to the THA Secretary of Health and Social Services and the Medical Chief of Staff.

Mrs. Roberts said she was assured by Secretary Groome-Duke that the names of all doctors involved would be revealed and that an investigation would be conducted.

She said she has not heard from either Secretary Groome-Duke or Dr. Duke up to this day.
...

For now, her son remains traumatised by the incident since no counseling was provided for him. His parents said he is afraid of even using a pair of scissors.

... THA Health and Social Services Secretary Claudia Groome-Duke said ... a Therapeutic Counselor has been called in to provide counseling to the little boy.

Mrs. Groome-Duke promised to keep in close contact ... /p>

MICHIGAN: Circumcision Prevention Seminar coming

Metro Times (Michigan)
November 11, 2014

Circumcision prevention seminar comes to U of M campus

by Alysa Offman
No doubt MT readers already know we have a fascination with circumcision round these parts. Michigan has a startling high rate of non-religious circumcision and we sought to find some reasons why when we wrote a cover story about it a couple months ago.

Of course, the story of why some people are obsessed with the idea that our sons must be circumcised while others are obsessed with the idea what they should absolutely not be is one that never ends. [It never began in most of the developed world, and it has virtually ended in the rest of the English-speaking world.]

NoCirc of Michigan, an anti-circumcision organization, is holding a seminar entitled New Perspectives next month to discuss and extrapolate on what it means to circumcise, including the surgery's history and what it means culturally, socially, medically, and ethically.

“Our goal is to educate the public about this ancient practice that is generating modern controversy worldwide. The practice of circumcision around the world raises many compelling issues for healthcare providers, parents, and the general public," said NoCirc of Michigan head Norm Cohen in a release.

Cohen and NoCirc contend that 83 percent of newborn boys in Michigan are circumcised, which ultimately costs taxpayers $3 million every year when 19,000 surgeries are covered through Medicaid.

New Perspectives is free and takes place on University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus on Sunday, Dec. 7. from 1-4:30 p.m.

The presentation will include speakers like Robert Van Howe, MD, MS, FAAP. He's an anti-circumcision professor and Interim Chairman of Pediatrics at Central Michigan University College of Medicine. He has lectured and been published internationally on the topic of circumcision and has been a consultant to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization, according to the release as well as John V. Geisheker, JD, LL.M, Director and General Counsel, Doctors Opposing Circumcision. He has practiced medico-legal law as an arbitrator, mediator, litigator, and law lecturer for over 30 years.

FLORIDA: Stay of execution for Chase

Chase's Guardians
November 18, 2014

Court Grants Ten-Day Extension For Appeal

by Jonathan Friedman
Chase's mother has been granted a ten-day extension to submit her notice of intent to appeal to the court. She now has until December 1st to file, but still seeks an appellate attorney to sit lead in the proceedings. Three veteran attorneys have volunteered to assist lead counsel in preparation of briefs and other work related to the appeal. This case has several troubling constitutional issues and the standard the court has applied in reaching their decision - whether the parental contract is valid, not whether the circumcision is in the best interest of a healthy 4 year old child - demands scrutiny. Please continue to donate and spread the word so that Chase's right to bodily autonomy can be protected.

Earlier story

FLORIDA: Time running out for Chase

Beyond the Bris
November 18, 2014

Upheld: Healthy Florida Boy to be Circumcised Against Mom's Wishes

by Rebecca Wald
The fight to save her four-year-old son from non-medically necessary circumcision recently got a lot tougher for a South Florida mom. On November 6 an appeals court upheld a ruling allowing the boy’s father to have him circumcised despite his mother’s deeply held belief that the procedure will be painful, damaging and emotionally harmful to him.

The mother, Heather Hironimus of Boynton Beach, and the father, Dennis Nebus of Boca Raton, had a brief relationship but never married. In January of 2012 the parents agreed to a court-ordered parenting plan which provided that the father would be responsible for scheduling and paying for the child’s circumcision. Although not initially opposed to the surgery, Hironimus says she later changed her mind after researching the procedure.

There are a number of very strange aspects to this case. The lower court judge Hon. Jeffrey Dana Gillian never appointed a Guardian ad Litem to advocate for the best interests of the child, and testimony by a child mental health professional was not allowed during trial. The lower court also placed a gag order on Hironimus preventing her from speaking about the case to the media or publicly raising funds for an appeal. She was also ordered not to tell her son that she opposes the procedure in any way, and to be separated from him for a period of weeks following the surgery.

Perhaps most disturbing is the age of the child. Circumcision beyond infancy is a more complicated procedure with an arguably greater risk of surgical complications. The boy will need need to be put under general anesthesia and intubated to facilitate ventilation of his lungs. At this age he will also be aware that his foreskin has been removed and will probably remember the event—including the court-mandated prolonged separation from his mother during this traumatic time.

No doubt in part due to the gag order on the mother, this case is not garnering much publicity, although Facebook and Twitter are buzzing and several celebrities have tweeted their support. Given that the case has already reached an appeals court, the chances of the mother prevailing at this point remain slim. Beyond the Bris will continue to follow this story and issue news updates as they happen.

In an interesting side note, an Orthodox Jewish website has condemned the ruling ordering the boy to be circumcised.

Earlier story

OAKLAND: Lawyers: gag order on Chase's mother "probably unconsitutional"

Gag-order "probably unconstitutional"

Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
November 17, 2014

Florida Mother Loses Appeal to Rescind Court-Ordered Circumcision of Four-Year-Old Boy

by Steven Svoboda
On November 6, 2014, an appeals court in Florida upheld a ruling ordering the circumcision of Chase, a healthy four-year-old boy. The boy's mother, Heather Hironimus, has been working to protect Chase from circumcision. The judge's original decision includes a remarkable, and probably unconstitutional, provision that his mother is not even allowed to inform Chase of her position on circumcision.

At four years old, Chase is a child who is fully aware of his body. He will experience and remember the pain of a circumcision, and he will be very aware that his body has been drastically changed.
Public figures such as Richard Dawkins, Russel Crowe, Alicia Silverstone and John Leguizamo have tweeted in favor of Chase.

Check our Facebook (www.facebook.com/ARCLAW) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/arclaw) accounts for the latest updates.

Earlier story: Chase, Crowe