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When a U.S. district judge last month ruled a federal ban on female genital mutilation unconstitutional, he undercut the federal government and alarmed anti-FGM activists, who hope to eradicate the practice.
The World Health Organization calls FGM, also known as female circumcision, a human rights violation of women and girls, with no health benefits.
Some 200 million women and girls around the world, mainly in Africa, have experienced FGM, the WHO says.
In his opinion, Judge Bernard Friedman called FGM “despicable,” but also “a local criminal activity” that must be addressed at the state level. In enacting a federal law, he said, Congress overstepped.
Now, local lawmakers, advocates and newspapers are calling for state bans that equal or surpass the scope of the federal law that was struck down.
The case Friedman ruled on centers around Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, an emergency room physician accused of performing FGM on at least 100 girls in Michigan for more than a decade.
Prosecutors have focused their case on nine girls, aged 7 to 12, from three states. The girls allegedly were subjected to FGM with the aid of Nagarwala and seven others, including the girls’ mothers.
Defense attorneys say the procedure amounted to only a “nick” on the girls performed as part of a religious ritual — not FGM. But they also argued in July that the federal law banning FGM is unconstitutional.
State Senator Rick Jones, who represents Michigan’s 24th district, told VOA by phone that he was shocked to learn about Nagarwala’s case and strongly disagrees with Friedman’s ruling.
Last year, Jones became the spokesperson for a package of bills outlawing FGM statewide. The legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Now, Michigan has some of the toughest FGM laws in the country.
Health-care providers convicted of performing FGM face up to 15 years in prison, along with the permanent loss of their medical licenses. Parents who take their daughters to doctors to be cut can lose custody.
The 1996 federal law, meanwhile, stipulated up to five years in prison and fines for medical providers who perform FGM.
“We wanted to send a strong message around the world: Never again bring your girls to Michigan for this horrible procedure,” Jones said.
Across the U.S., 27 states have passed laws banning FGM, many of which have been written in recent years and include penalties that go beyond the federal law, which also criminalizes so-called “vacation cutting,” the practice of taking girls out of the United States to have FGM performed overseas.
News organizations are among those pushing for an expansion of state laws. Last month, the Seattle Times editorial board called for a ban in Washington, one of 23 states yet to outlaw FGM.
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times editorial board said all 50 states should ban the “barbaric” practice, in light of Friedman’s ruling.
The health-care providers and families involved in the Michigan case belong to Dawoodi Bohra, a Shi’ite Muslim sect based in India with about 2 million followers worldwide.
According to a study published earlier this year, FGM, called khafd in Dawoodi Bohra communities, is widespread in the sect and involves cutting the clitoral hood or part of the clitoris, without an anesthetic, when girls turn seven.
The study, commissioned by WeSpeakOut, an advocacy group focused on eradicating khafd, also found that three-quarters of Dawoodi Bohra women have experienced FGM.
The severity and nature of FGM can vary.
Health-care providers have identified four types of FGM. Khafd involves Type 1 FGM. Other types involve removing all of the external genitalia and narrowing the vaginal opening.
Jones rejects the idea that there’s a religious basis for the procedure, however it’s performed.
“Across the world, this has been practiced by Christians, pagans, Muslims, even a small Jewish sect in Ethiopia,” he said.
“This is not about a religion,” he added. “This is about men attempting to control women’s behavior by this horrible procedure.”
The WHO identifies both short-term and permanent harms associated with the practice. Immediate concerns include severe pain, infections and, in some cases, death. Long term, women and girls subjected to FGM face a range of physiological and psychological complications that can affect menstruation, childbirth and sexual health.
The United States has been unequivocal in condemning the practice, saying “the U.S. government considers FGM/C to be a serious human rights abuse, and a form of gender-based violence and child abuse” on a fact sheet posted to the Citizenship & Immigration Services website.
Education and legislation
Friedman’s November decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for prosecutors.
Nagarwala spent seven months in 2017 in jail before 16 friends posted a $4.5 million unsecured bond, against the pleas of prosecutors, who argued Nagarwala could silence potential witnesses or even flee the country if released.
And in January, the judge dismissed charges that Nagarwala and a second doctor, Fakhruddin Attar, transported minors with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, an offense that carries a lifetime sentence.
Nagarwala still faces conspiracy and obstruction charges that could result in decades in prison.
The trial is now set to begin next April, the Detroit Free Press reported last month. However, the prosecution could appeal last month’s decision, drawing the case out further.
Looking beyond the Michigan case, Jones said the key to stopping FGM isn’t just legislation but also education.
“What we have to do is continue to fight this worldwide. This is a global problem,” Jones said.
“It is a violation of human rights,” he said. “And I’m going to continue speaking out worldwide against this horrible, horrible practice that must end.” (VOA)
Between zoom meetings, webinars, you're walking a tight rope to balance work from home and domestic chores, in all this its easy to forget about taking care of yourself. It's imperative to squeeze in a few hours to indulge in yourself, whether its a massage or a hair spa treatment.
It comes with a range of accessories which includes the 40mm Airwrap long barrels, 30mm Airwra barrels, a Firm smoothing brush, a Soft smoothing brush, a Round volumising brush, the Pre-styling dryer, a non-slip heat-resistant mat to place your styler on, a Storage case and even a Filter cleaning brush. A Storage bag (Iron/Fuchsia) securely stores your Dyson Airwrap when you're on the move.
The different styling attachments cater to unique hair needs and are designed for different hair styles. | File
The different styling attachments cater to unique hair needs and are designed for different hair styles. For instance the 30 mm barrels create and set voluminous curls. With clockwise and counter-clockwise barrels for symmetrical curls. The 40 mm barrels create and set loose curls or waves. The Firm smoothing brush creates a straighter style with less frizz ad fewer flyways, with firm bristles engineered to control unruly, frizz prone hair. The pre- styling dryer takes hair from wet to damp, ready for styling. The round volumizing brush directs air into the hair to give body, and the bristles create tension to shape hair as it dries, Ideal for limp, flat hair. To create a sooth, blow-dry finish. With soft bristles engineered to be gentle on the scalp.
It features three precise airflow speeds, to suit your styling and four precise heat settings, including constant cold shot. The cold shot immediately deactivates the heating element, for cooler air to set your style. The Coanda to curl barrels harness an aerodynamic phenomenon and the Coanda to smooth which uses Dyson brushes to attract hair to the surface of the brush, propelling air along the hair strands for a smooth, straighter style. It's powered by the Dyson digital motor V9, a 13-blade impeller spins at up to 110,000rpm, generating 3.2kPa. Powerful enough to produce the air pressure needed to create the Coanda effect. The intelligent heat control measures airflow temperature over 40 times a second, intelligently controlling the heating element to keep the temperature under a 150 degree Celsius. Preventing extreme heat damage. "Great styling and takes lesser effort than the usual blow drying. Saving lots of visits to the salon, absolutely love it!" says a salon regular who switched her weekly visits to the salon for the at home Dyson experience. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Dyson, hair, hair styles, styling, airflow, non-slip heat-resistant mat, Pre-styling dryer, olumising brush, smoothing brush, Dyson Airwrap
An international team of astronomers has identified 366 new exoplanets, using data from the NASA Kepler Space Telescope's K2 mission. The findings, described in a paper published in the Astronomical Journal, showed a planetary system that comprises a star and at least two gas giant planets, each roughly the size of Saturn and located unusually close to one another.
The discovery is significant because it's rare to find gas giants -- like Saturn in the solar system -- as close to their host star as they were in this case. The researchers cannot yet explain why it occurred there, but it makes the finding especially useful because it could help scientists form a more accurate understanding of the parameters for how planets and planetary systems develop.
An international team of astronomers has identified 366 new exoplanets, using data from the NASA Kepler Space Telescope's K2 mission. | NASA
"The discovery of each new world provides a unique glimpse into the physics that play a role in planet formation," said lead author Jon Zink, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar. The findings could be a significant step toward helping astronomers understand which types of stars are most likely to have planets orbiting them and what that indicates about the building blocks needed for successful planet formation, acoording to the study. "We need to look at a wide range of stars, not just ones like our sun, to understand that," Zink said.
The term "exoplanets" is used to describe planets outside of the solar system. The number of exoplanets that have been identified by astronomers numbers fewer than 5,000 in all, so the identification of hundreds of new ones is a significant advance. Kepler's original mission came to an unexpected end in 2013 when a mechanical failure left the spacecraft unable to precisely point at the patch of sky it had been observing for years.
But astronomers repurposed the telescope for a new mission known as K2, whose objective is to identify exoplanets near distant stars. Data from K2 is helping scientists understand how stars' location in the galaxy influences what kind of planets are able to form around them. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Astronomers, discover, possible, exoplanets, telescope, mission, planets
By Dr Anil Batra
The winter comes with its own set of hassles. New moms have to be careful because they have to take care of themselves and their babies. It becomes imperative to protect babies from the harsh season. The immune system of newborn babies is developing, which makes them susceptible to respiratory infections. But, you can take preventive measures to keep your child warm and safe. Newborn babies need extra care until their immune system becomes stronger to protect their bodies from the harmful effects of viruses and bacteria that usually become more active in the winter season. A drop in the temperature can aggravate different processes in the body, therefore, moms need to take extra care of newborn babies during winters.
New moms can follow the given tips to take care of their little ones and protect them from the harmful effects of harsh winds blowing outside.
Keep the temperature warm in the baby's room: Use a portable heater in the baby's room to keep the temperature warm. The air becomes dry due to the excessive use of a heater. Therefore, keeping a humidifier to balance the moisture levels.
Apply moisturizer: The baby's skin is very sensitive and the harsh, dry, and cold air can make the skin dry. Therefore, apply a good moisturizer to keep it soft and smooth. Choose a moisturizer made of milk cream and butter, especially for children. This will keep the skin of your baby soft.
Massage: Massage is important to keep your baby's skin soft and healthy. Massage helps to improve the blood circulation in the body that helps in boosting strength. Use a natural oil to massage the body of your child. Make sure the room is warm where you massage the baby.
Massage helps to improve the blood circulation in the body that helps in boosting strength. | Photo by Khoa Pham on Unsplash
Avoid using heavy blankets: You can comfort your baby by laying a light blanket to keep your baby warm. Avoid using a heavy blanket to cover your baby during winters because your baby would not be able to move his arms and legs while sleeping. In this process, your baby may pull it up on its face and this can cause respiratory distress. Thus, use a light blanket and keep the room temperature optimum.
Dress your baby comfortably: Choose comfortable dressing for your baby. Avoid wrapping your baby in thick sweaters, gloves, and socks. This will restrict its movement and he/she will become irritable. Choose clothes depending on the room temperature. The clothes should cover his/her baby but should not restrict movement. You can use light gloves and socks to cover your hands and feet to keep your baby warm at night.
Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is the most important activity that can keep your baby healthy. Breast milk consists of required nutrients and antibodies that will enhance the immune system of your baby and will protect him/her against diseases. During breastfeeding your baby will feel warm and cosy that will also give him comfort.
Avoid using a heavy blanket to cover your baby during winters because your baby would not be able to move his arms and legs while sleeping | Flickr
Maintain proper hygiene: Mothers should be careful when handling newborn babies in winters. You will be the first point of contact for your baby. Therefore, make sure you keep yourself clean and healthy. Wash your hands before handling your baby. Germs can easily enter your baby's body through your dirty hands. Therefore, make sure you wash your hands or sanitize them before attending to your baby. Also, ask visitors to wash their hands.
Take care outdoors: If you want to take your child outdoors make sure it is not freezing temperature. Take your child out for fresh air only if the temperature is not too cold and remember to cover your baby properly before taking them out. Taking your baby out will help to give fresh air and will improve their health.
Common issues that may arise in newborn babies during winters:
Winter brings flu and other viruses that can easily spread and affect anyone. Common issues that may arise in newborn babies during winters include the following:
- Skin allergies
- Digestive issues
Parents can take care of their newborn babies from various diseases that may affect them in the winters in the following ways:
* If your baby suffers during the winter season, you should consult a pediatrician.
* You can give a homemade solution if your baby suffers from a cold. Check with the doctor and you can only give a saline solution or nasal drops.
* Keep your baby well hydrated. Keep breastfeeding your baby and also give water if necessary.
* Cuddle your baby lovingly and give him warmth along with other precautions.
* In the first winter, you can take preventive measures to take care of your little ones and keep them safe. Maintain proper hygiene and keep your house warm. Avoid visitors if your child is not feeling well.
It is not necessary to give a bath to your baby every day. You can bathe your baby after 2-3 days in winter. | Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash
How often to give a bath to your baby in winter?
It is not necessary to give a bath to your baby every day. You can bathe your baby after 2-3 days in winter. You can sponge bathe your newborn every other day in winter. Check the temperature of the room before giving a bath to your baby. The room temperature should be warm and comfortable for your baby. Check the temperature of the water. Make sure the water is not too hot or cold. The temperature of the water should be right for the body of your baby. Check the temperature by touching the water with your elbow or wrist. Use mild soap and shampoo to bathe your baby in winter. Also, apply oil and moisturizer to the skin to keep it soft and prevent skin allergies. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Winter, care tips, newborn, baby, hygiene, breastfeeding, blanket