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In Defense of Migrant Girls By: Phyllis Chesler
Pajamas Media | Friday, May 29, 2009


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In 2001, the mother of an 11-year-old girl spirited her out of Gothenburg, in Sweden, and back to Somalia where she had her brutally genitally mutilated (and without anesthesia). The mother and two other women held her down while a man made sure that she would never experience sexual pleasure and would instead, experience a great deal of pain for the rest of her life. According to the English language Swedish media,

“For several years after the violation the girl was subjected to repeated examinations by her mother who forced her fingers into her vagina to check that her virginity remained intact. She also repeatedly assaulted her daughter with various implements including books, a curtain rail and a belt.”

Yesterday, eight years later, the girl, now 19-years-old, won a lawsuit in which she was awarded a monetary compensation from her mother for the “abuse and gross violation of (her bodily) integrity.” Damages for pain and suffering are yet to be decided.

In Somalia, the girl would not have such legal recourse. My congratulations to the Swedish, Western legal system and to the bravery of this plaintiff. May we soon see many more such lawsuits and victories as well.

Also this month, in Manchester, England, a “wicked and cruel mother” has been jailed for three years after forcing her two young daughters to marry their cousins in Pakistan in 2007. The mother had “hoodwinked” her daughters, aged 14 and 15, into going on a family holiday. Once there, she not only forced the marriage upon them—she also threatened to “tie (her elder) daughter to the bed, blindfold her and strip her and watch to make sure she had sex with her new husband.”

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Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (2005). She has just published a new edition of Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2009). She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women's studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women's Health Network (1976). Her website is www.phyllis-chesler.com.


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