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… but UD‘s hometown abundantly – maybe even uniquely – caters to your every political whim. So UD has for awhile been taken up with the issue of global female genital mutilation (half a million women in the United States have been cut, or are at risk of cutting, 50,000 of them in the Washington region; Maryland, where UD lives, is one of eight states with the highest rates), and a couple of nights ago she had merely to walk a few hundred yards from her university office in order to take part in a spectacular global forum about it.

She was able to ask one of the lead DOJ attorneys on the Jumana Nagarwala case in Detroit if we’re actually going to be able to put this Johns Hopkins University med school graduate in prison for a long time.

“We do not,” she replied, “take cases we are not confident we can win.” (Applause broke out at this.)

UD looks forward to Johns Hopkins University publicly rescinding Nagarwala’s degree, on the grounds that medical schools in the United States are not butcheries.

Linda Weil-Curiel, a heroic French attorney with a heroic family history, described her years of successful prosecution against cutters. “My most rewarding moment? I was sitting in a courthouse, looking over some notes, when three large and menacing men surrounded me. ‘You’re the reason our women no longer obey us,’ they said.”

Here she talks about the central, overwhelming importance of a secular state with a commitment to universal human rights. Lately she’s been trying to get all of this across to hapless England, which has a scandalously huge FGM problem, about which it seems unable to do anything. But of course French laïcité gives them an advantage, in this as in so many other matters.


Speaking of visually compelling, Pierre Foldès, the surgeon who pioneered reconstructive surgery for those who’ve been cut, was also there, and he treated us to many large graphic images of the whole shebang: mutilation, rehabilitation. Ol’ UD wasn’t expecting this, and she doesn’t mind telling you she underwent a certain interval of heebie-jeebies until she settled in to the whole clinical observation thing.

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6 Responses to “Washington! It may not be the most visually compelling city…”

  1. Bernard Carroll Says:

    The whole clinical observation thing is what makes it possible for clinicians to function though confronted with misery arising from disease or from the malevolence of people.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Barney: Yes – the whole process of emotional detachment so as to concentrate on a particular problem rather than – in the case at hand – having to think about how horrible people are is an interesting one.

  3. Keith Says:

    Disclaimer: I am a Johns Hopkins Bloomsberg School of Public Health graduate and a Hopkins School of Medicine retiree.

    Is it legally permissible to revoke a professional degree? The following case deals with this issue tangentially.


    In this case, the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine tried to dismiss a medical student shortly before graduation but he sued and a court ruled that the school had to award him the degree. Case Western appealed and a higher court ruled that the school did have a right to withhold the degree.

    Certainly honors (honorary doctorates -think Bill Cosby) have been withdrawn, statues removed (think Penn State) and buildings have been renamed (think Georgetown’s Mulledy Hall) for cause. But Dr. Nagarwala’s case is different. The Case Western student was dismissed for acts performed before receiving a degree. Dr. Nagarwala fully earned her degree and her issue is for alleged behavior after conditions for the degree were met and the degree was awarded.

    Degrees can be revoked if the requirements of the degree were met by fraudulent means (think plagiarism or falsified data) and there’s no doubt that doctors (and lawyers and others) can lose their licenses to practice if they fail to meet the standards of their profession. But can a degree be revoked for post-graduation behavior if all the conditions for receiving the degree were met at the time the degree was awarded?

    i’m no lawyer but it seems to me that this matter should be in the hands of the legal system and licensing organization(s) and out of the hands of the awarding institution. If courts have ruled otherwise, I am unaware of it.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Keith: Many thanks for the thoughtful comment. This is a thorny moral and legal issue, but I’d start with a court’s recent support of a university’s refusal of a degree for activity that took place just as the student completed his degree requirements. Ayal Rosenthal seems to have come from a family of high-level financial thieves, and his MBA at NYU seems to have been earned pretty much in support of that activity. Just before he was due to graduate, his illegal activities came to light; since then, from prison I guess, he’s been suing NYU left and right in an effort to get them to hand over the degree. All of the courts he’s been able to take this to ruled for the university, and all of them said that in the matter of granting, conferring, and indeed revoking degrees, the decision is up to the school itself.

    What’s particularly relevant to Nagarwala is the following court comment:

    “Without question, a business school faculty could reasonably believe that such conduct is not befitting of a member of the academic business community, and that a student who engages in this criminal activity — while working in the very profession in which he now demands that Stern certify him to the world as professionally competent — is not fit to receive the degree,” the opinion said.

    The reason the Nagarwala case is so egregious is that for years she used her globally prestigious Hopkins certification to attract people from all over America to her lucrative, private, baby butchering, soirees. If you were eager to bleed your five-year-old and ruin her for life but not actually kill her the way less qualified people kill people, she was the go-to gal. And why is Nagarwala the best bleeder in the business? Take a bow, Johns Hopkins.

    There’s no question in my mind that when a medical school unwittingly trains someone to destroy organs rather than mend them, it needs to protect its good name by powerfully disavowing that person.

    As to the licensing organization: Sure. I have no doubt that as soon as she’s convicted, Nagarwala will lose her license. Even if she doesn’t, she’s obviously already through as a doctor.

    But this is also about the integrity of our medical schools and the disposition of our taxes. FGM is real popular with lots of people living in this country. If you’re a medical school spending a lot of taxpayer money to train surgeons who will (it is alleged) set up practice with your training in order to hold down screaming five year old girls, digitally penetrate them, and then slash away their clitorises and vaginas, you must acknowledge this and repudiate the monster you’ve spawned.

  5. Keith Says:

    One of my questions is: How did she get admitted? The Hopkins School of Medicine gets thousands of applicants (literally) and they admit (the last I knew) 120 to the freshman class. Basically, the admissions committee can be as fussy as they want. How/why did they select her from the applicant pool?

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Keith: I wondered the same thing. I expect the answer is the un-earth-shaking one: She’s wicked smart as well as just wicked.

    But here’s a conundrum: The Muslim sect from which Nagarwala comes is way into FGM:

    [It] has been a mandatory religious practice inflicted on Bohra girls all over the world for generations, often in knowing violation of local laws. Bohras are the only Muslims in India who enforce female genital cutting; it’s not a common practice among South Asians or Muslims worldwide, and it’s not mentioned in the Koran.



    Is it not now the responsibility of medical school admissions committees at least to think about the possibility that in admitting members of this religious community they may be admitting criminals?

    Remember: Nagarwala has described FGM as her absolute religious obligation. Which means that if she doesn’t go to jail she’ll keep doing it; and if she does go to jail, when she’s released, she’ll keep doing it. It’s non-negotiable. Shouldn’t our medical schools do all they can to keep determined and dangerous fanatics of this sort out?

    I have no idea how they can do it. I only raise the question.

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