The Law in a Female Genital Cutting Case

To the Editor:

Re “Michigan Case Adds U.S. Dimension to the Debate Over Genital Cutting” (news article, June 11):

You write that I was hired “to help the defense.” In fact, under no circumstances am I defending female genital mutilation. To the contrary, I am consulting with a religious group and advocating the practice’s total abolition and the substitution of a benign, sterilized, symbolic pinprick in the hood covering the clitoris, which is much like the foreskin of the penis.

The symbolic pinprick is modeled on the longstanding Jewish tradition used when a non-Jewish child has been secularly circumcised and then converts to Judaism. The pinprick itself, like cosmetic ear piercing, has no medical benefits or harm. But it is much less intrusive than procedures practiced by some groups while protecting the constitutional right of its religious practitioners.

If all who today practice female genital mutilation can be persuaded to substitute the pinprick, as some groups have done, much good will be achieved.

Government authorities should not be allowed to forcibly remove children from their parents, as is being done in Michigan.

I am confident that my role in the case will be beneficial to young girls who belong to the group, while protecting the constitutional rights of their parents and their religion.


The writer is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School.

A version of this letter appears in print on June 13, 2017, on Page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: A Genital Cutting Case. Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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