Many people consider female genital mutilation to be a violation of human rights. Having a knowledgeable and skilled attorney on your side is the best way to ensure that your defense against a female genital mutilation charge is strong. We at the Sex Crimes Attorney are aware of both sides, and it is our responsibility to work tirelessly for the good of our clients. Defendants can rest assured that they will receive the necessary assistance and protection from our professionals.
Understanding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
FGM refers to a variety of traditional practices that entails the cutting of female genitalia. Young girls between the age of 4 and 12 are often subjected to the operation as a rite of passage. It could be carried out as soon as a couple of days after the baby is born or as late as right before the first pregnancy or marriage, depending on the culture.
Four major categories have been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify the various types of FGM:
- Type I (often known as a "clitoridectomy") involves the prepuce that could be removed with or without the clitoris.
- Type II, often known as "excision," involves the removal of the prepuce, clitoris, and either all or part of the labia minora.
- In type III (often known as "infibulation"): the external genitalia are partially or completely removed, and the vaginal opening is stitched or reduced in size.
- Type IV: All other operations that involve removing the external female genitalia entirely or partially for cultural or any other non-therapeutic motives.
The number of women and children who have experienced FGM is estimated to be 130 million worldwide. At least 2 million women worldwide are "in danger" of getting the operation every year. FGM is currently carried out in 28 African nations, mostly in the northeastern and sub-Saharan parts of the continent.
The prevalence differs greatly from country to country. For instance, Mali has a prevalence rate of nearly 90% compared to Senegal's 20%. In addition, there are groups of African immigrants all over the world, notably in Europe, Australia, North America, and New Zealand, that include women who've undergone FGM. It is unclear how common female genital mutilation is in the country.
A Woman's Identity and Female Genital Mutilation
More than 500,000 girls in the United States are estimated to be in danger of going through female genital mutilation.
FGM, also known as female genital cutting or female circumcision, is the ritual excision of all or a portion of the external female genitalia in girls and women. It is often a religious activity, but it could also be carried out for aesthetic or other non-therapeutic purposes. Many nations have outlawed female genital mutilation because they view it as a heinous act that violates the human rights of young girls and women.
The procedure was outlawed in the United States in 1996, which marks the first federal lawsuit involving FGM since then. In Michigan, where the operation occurred, there is no state legislation against this practice, which attracts a 5-year federal crime. The doctors, according to the defense, were victimized because of their religious convictions. Additionally, they claimed that the treatment only resulted in a minor, harmless nick rather than mutilation.
In many cultures and religions, circumcision of female individuals has been a long-standing custom, and in certain communities, not having it is unthinkable. The ritual marks a child's transition into adulthood. The removal of the labia and clitoris, which are seen as male organs in some cultures, might enhance a woman's femininity.
In addition, there are hygienic and health grounds for female circumcision, similar to those available for male circumcision. Some societies believe that uncircumcised women cannot conceive. In addition, they believe that if the labia are left unattended, they would develop until they hang between the woman's legs. Uncircumcised women would not be allowed to handle food or drink in some communities since it's believed that the female genitals are impure.
It isn't considered to be a crime in such cultures, but rather a question of religious conviction. When young girls transition into women, the washing procedure removes excess skin from the labia minora or the clitoris. However, WHO views female circumcision as a violation of women's human rights. WHO also believes it causes harm to the body, the mind, and emotions, and it could have adverse effects on the body's health.
The WHO considers the FGM practice to be an unacceptable form of discrimination and a procedure that reflects a pervasive inequity between both genders. The organization sees it more as a cultural activity than a religious belief, which:
- Is a crucial coming-of-age tradition for a young girl's transition into adulthood.
- Is infused with the belief that female circumcision renders a lady sexually pure.
- Enhances the cultural identity or sense of belonging.
Additionally, they consider it to be a gross infringement of children's rights since it virtually always occurs to young children. The Hastings Center, a bioethics think tank, refuted the WHO's description of the genital operation as harmful, cruel, and abusive, stating that research has demonstrated that:
- Ladies who have had genital surgery still have regular sex lives.
- Female genital surgery rarely results in reproductive or medical complications.
- Female genital surgery is not seen as mutilation by the women who choose it, but rather as an aesthetic improvement.
John-Stewart Gordon, a bioethics expert from Lithuania's Vytauto Didziojo University, asserts that the excision of the clitoris foreskin can be made to comply with all of the demands made by the universal human rights principles. Denying women human rights could have serious negative personal and social repercussions in societies where a woman's admittance into the community relies upon the fact that she has undergone circumcision.
Some girls often opt to get circumcised. They must tell their friends about the ritual of female circumcision to fully integrate into the community. The route to achieving the status of a real woman is paved with pain and frequently life-threatening situations, but the procedure is essential to win the tribe's respect. In Muslim communities where female circumcision is common, it is considered a method of cleansing the body.
Although Gordon acknowledges that not all types of female circumcision adhere to international human rights, he shows how it is possible to do so by fulfilling the following requirements:
- It is necessary to secure individual informed consent in addition to parental consent.
- The type of circumcision should be taken into account, and all forms of FGM must be actively avoided.
- It should only be carried out by individuals with medical training.
- Anesthesia should be administered, and operations should be performed in sterilized settings. It is necessary to disinfect all equipment.
- Women shouldn't be forced to have female circumcision or treated unfairly if they choose not to.
Several organizations are calling for the explicit ban of genital mutilation or female circumcision in favor of a symbolic and benign pinprick into a clitoral hood, which resembles the male foreskin. Jewish tradition has been a part of this ritual for a very long time.
The bris procedure is used when a non-Jewish minor adopts Judaism after being circumcised in a secular manner. The area left over after the foreskin is removed during the bris surgery, which is under medical supervision, doesn't include the penis. To appease the religious element, a tiny drop of blood is extracted.
This procedure has no medical benefits or drawbacks similar to a cosmetic ear piercing. However, it's significantly less intrusive compared to other alternative procedures while still safeguarding the rights of religious practitioners.
FGM-Related Health Issues
The worst aspect of this practice is that it causes more health problems than benefits. Female genital tissues are improperly removed during the procedure, causing harm to the healthy tissues. It affects how a woman's body normally functions and has a detrimental impact on various aspects of her health.
Each year, more than 3 million women experience FGM, which has severe immediate consequences. Also, there are many long-term health problems, such as cyst development and an elevated risk of HIV, making this an apparent violation of basic human rights. It is urgent to find a remedy since between 100 to 140 million women and girls have endured this inhumane treatment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that FGM has both short- and long-term health risks and offers no health advantages.
FGM complications include:
- Infection of a wound.
- Severe pain.
- Infections or tetanus.
- Urine retention.
- Infection of the urinary system.
- Septicemia or blood poisoning.
- Genital ulceration and damage to surrounding tissue.
Additionally, FGM can have long-term and lasting effects, such as:
- Complications during labor.
- Persistent discomfort and pain.
- Psychological effects.
- Keloid scars.
- Urinary tract Injuries.
- Incontinence of the bladder.
- Genital sensitivity.
- Sexual impotence.
- Increased risk of transmitting HIV.
What to Do If You're Accused of Female Genital Mutilation
Charges of female genital mutilation (FGM) almost instantly elicit hostile responses from communities. People often act hostile when they are unaware of the underlying belief and reasons.
In addition, it is illegal in the majority of the states in the United States, and it's also a federal offense that is outlined in international laws. Internationally, it is seen as a terrible injustice toward young girls and women.
If you've been accused of committing a female genital mutilation-related offense, you require the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in sex crimes as well as one who will listen to your version of the events without judging you. Our group of attorneys has a wealth of knowledge in criminal law and is cognizant of the factors that influence certain behavior.
The Law on Female Genital Mutilation
Despite variations in the laws from state to state, the following is usually the case:
- A person is guilty of FGM if they intentionally circumcise, infibulate, or excise a labia majora, labia minora, or clitoris of a young female under the age of 18.
- Female genital mutilation is also considered a criminal offense if any guardian, parent, immediate caretaker, or manager of a female under the age of 18 who intentionally allows or gives consent to the excision, circumcision, or infibulation of the labia minora, labia majora, or clitoris, labia majora.
- FGM is committed when a person intentionally allows or facilitates the withdrawal of a girl under the age of 18 for infibulation, excision, or circumcision, of the labia majora, labia minora, or clitoris.
California's Laws On Female Genital Mutilation
California's FGM Law, which forbids female genital mutilation, was approved in 1996 and went into effect on the first of January of the following year. The Act includes a wealth of information, indicating, for instance, that early studies suggest that there have been FGM incidences throughout the state and young girls in numerous immigrant communities in California continue to be at potential risk of Female Genital Mutilation.
The law also commits to opposing FGM alongside other states, countries, and notable health as well as human rights groups.
California's FGM Law revises the State's Penal Code to assert that anyone who violates a provision that forbids anyone from jeopardizing children or allowing children to suffer injuries, physical pain, or mental suffering by an action that constitutes FGM will serve a further year in prison.
A child endangerment offense carries a 1 to 6-year prison sentence. The California Female Genital Mutilation Law also mandates that the State DHCS launch "necessary education, prevention, and outreach initiatives" to tell individuals, particularly those who are recent immigrants, of the "health hazards and psychological trauma imposed by" FGM and to inform these individuals and the health care industry about the illegality of FGM. This is done in conjunction with the CDSS and the relevant federal agencies.
Federal Laws Regarding Female Genital Mutilation
Congress established several laws pertaining to Female Genital Mutilation in 1996. Firstly, FGM on minors was declared illegal in the United States, unless it was required to safeguard the health of a child. Secondly, the HHS was obligated to gather information on FGM as well as to conduct outreach and education initiatives in relevant localities.
Finally, it was mandated that the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service advise all foreign nationals who were granted visas to the United States on the medical and psychological impacts of FGM in addition to the legal ramifications of FGM under child protection or criminal laws.
Ultimately, federal legislation mandated that executives of financial institutions around the world, including the World Bank, reject nonhumanitarian funding to nations that haven't implemented educational initiatives to stop FGM.
Criminalization of the FGM Practice
A section of the IIRIRA of 1996, which was put into effect on 30th September 1996, made the FGM practice illegal.
It states that, excluding two exemptions, "anyone who deliberately excises, infibulates or circumcises the entire or any portion of the clitoris, labia majora, or labia minora of someone else who hasn't reached eighteen years could be punished under this article or imprisoned for a maximum of five years, or maybe both."
Surgical procedures are exempted according to the law if they are "essential to the wellbeing of the individual on whom they are performed, and are conducted by an individual licensed as a healthcare professional." It is important to apply a strict definition to the word "well-being" in this exception.
According to the law, "no consideration will be given of the impact on the individual who will undergo the procedure is to be conducted of any perception on the side of that individual, or another individual, that the surgery is necessary as a subject of ritual or custom."
This procedure is also exempt according to the law if it is "conducted on an individual who is experiencing labor or has recently delivered a baby and is conducted for medicinal reasons related to that birth or labor by an individual certified as a healthcare professional, midwife, or individual to become a midwife or practitioner."
180 days following their enactment, the aforementioned clauses came into force on the 1st of April 1997.
Legal Justification for Prosecution in Female Genital Mutilation Cases
FGM is an extremely serious crime, and the prosecution must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. A skilled sexual crimes attorney, nevertheless, can identify and point out loopholes in the prosecution's evidence to cast a doubt on it in the eyes of the jurors.
Penalties for a Female Genital Mutilation Charge
Due to the fact that each state has its own set of laws, the defendant could face prison time ranging from 5 to 20 years, based on the state's laws. In California, there is a 1 to 6-year prison sentence for putting a minor in danger.
Potential Defenses Against FGM Charges
Given that female genital mutilation falls under the federal offense category, you should hire a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with federal sex offenses.
An experienced sex crimes lawyer can evaluate the strength of the case and develop a strategy that will almost certainly result in a favorable outcome. Your lawyer will exhaust all options available to them within the bounds of the law to get the charges against you dropped or reduced.
But still, it begins with the appropriate defense approach from the onset.
When accused of female genital mutilation, using religious defenses is not acceptable in court, nor are traditional customs, rituals, or practices. Because this is a rule of law that's relevant to everybody, the use of these arguments will lead to a conviction.
Although the First US Amendment guarantees the right to the freedom of religion, FGM is seen as a cultural tradition instead of a form of religion since there isn't a specific instruction to perform it in either Islamic or Christian scriptures. This shows that constitutional privileges are not necessarily absolute. Thus, the First Amendment doesn't cover female circumcision.
If a surgical operation was carried out by a doctor, or any other qualified professional soon after the victim's delivery of a baby or for a different medical reason, a surgical defense could be utilized.
Therefore, defendants who engage in ceremonial FGM as a cultural norm are not covered by the medical or surgical defense.
Many local laws explicitly forbid using consent as a legal defense. Hence, if the woman is under the age of 18, neither she nor her parents, guardians, or custodians (if any) can claim that they approved of this procedure.
Because the law stipulates that a defendant should deliberately commit an offense to be convicted, no knowledge could be an effective defense.
As a result, there is a chance to use this as a defense provided your attorney shows that you didn't know about the incident. With the help of your lawyer, you could be allowed to utilize this argument if you can prove that it applies to your situation.
How a Sex Crimes Lawyer Can Help You
While facing criminal allegations, having an experienced legal team on your side is crucial. Depending on the allegations, the proper legal team will have the capacity to assist you in building the best argument to protect your constitutional rights.
A sex crimes lawyer can meticulously look into all the specifics of your matter and thoroughly weigh your alternatives. Judges as well as their fellow criminal defense practitioners hold professional lawyers in high regard. The majority of the lawyer's business comes from recommendations made by former clients they have defended in the past.
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Whenever you need help from the Sex Crimes Attorney, we'll be here to deliver quick and reliable legal services. Our skilled criminal defense team will vigorously contest the allegations against you and do all within our power to prevent a conviction since your case matters to us.
If you need legal representation on a criminal matter, please contact us as soon as possible to arrange a consultation. We'll evaluate the specifics of the case and inform you of any possibilities of obtaining a not-guilty verdict. We will develop your legal defense and work to achieve a favorable outcome. We are prepared to put up a strong defense. Call us now at 888-666-8480.