When is female genital mutilation just peachy?

When it’s done by an American mother to stop her daughter from having sex:

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — A woman who had her 13-year-old daughter’s genitalia pierced to make it uncomfortable for her to have sex was acquitted of aggravated child abuse on Thursday.

The girl, now 16, had testified that her mother asked a friend in 2004 to shave the girl’s head to make her unattractive to boys and later held her down for the piercing.

A jury deliberated for about three hours before deciding the mother’s actions didn’t involve punishment or malicious intent, or cause permanent damage or disfigurement.

Right, because shoving a sharp object through a 13-year-old girl’s genitals has nothing to do with punishing her. Just ask the jury foreman:

“Maybe it was not the best decision in the world,” foreman Colin Kelly said afterward. “But the intent was to try to stop a girl who was completely out of control… Are you going to put every parent in jail for making a bad decision?”

Somehow, holding your child down and not just shaving her head but piercing her genitals with the express purpose of making it more difficult to have sex kinda seems like more than just a “bad decision.” But I guess I know nothing, since I’m not a parent and I wouldn’t know what it was like to have an out-of-control daughter:

The 39 year old mother is being accused of aggravated child abuse. She says she was trying to prevent her daughter from continuing to have sex too soon and too often.

Prosecutors say the piercing was to punish the daughter for having to much sex, including with her mother’s 30 year old boyfriend.

To go along with the piercing, the mother also shaved the 13 year old’s head to make her unattractive.

According to the mother, these actions were a last resort because she had already put her daughter on the pill, gave her a curfew, and grounded her. All were aimed on trying to end her daughter’s sexual activity.

Okay, so let me get this straight: your boyfriend rapes your 13-year-old daughter (leading, no doubt, to her acting out sexually) and you punish *her* by shaving *her* head and forcibly piercing *her* genitals? Instead of, I dunno, doing something about the boyfriend?

Oh, and creepy argument of the day?

Defense attorneys argued that the girl agreed to the piercing to help rebuild her mother’s trust and no disfigurement resulted from it.

Even though the wound became infected, which is where child protective services came in. And even though the piercer, “Tattoo Tammy,” was sentenced to a year in jail for her role in the assault.

Now, none of the stories specify which part of the genitals were pierced, and there are plenty of genital piercings out there that wouldn’t cause permanent disfigurement. But given that the goal was to make things uncomfortable for her to have sex, and given that it was done under force and the wound became infected, I’m really starting to wonder whether she had an actual clitoral piercing done, or if she had her daughter’s labia laced up like a turkey.

However, even if it were a single piercing in, say, a labia or clitoral hood that would heal relatively easily and not interfere too much with function, I find myself really creeped out that a key issue was whether there was permanent disfigurement.*

But to get back to the title of this post: I have to agree with Trailer Park Feminist’s assesment of this:

Keep in mind, this was in the United States of America, not Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or somewhere like that. It was right here, in our modern, enlightened, Western country, where women supposedly have total equality and freedom from oppression.

More than that, I would bet good money that the very same jurors who acquitted this woman (probably a nice, Christian woman) for mutilating her daughter’s genitals would somehow make the distinction between what she did to get her daughter “under control” and FGM as practiced in Africa and the Middle East. Because, you know, she’s People Like Us, and not some kind of Foreign People.

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* I suppose that the charge of aggravated child abuse would include this, but I wonder why there were no lesser charges. Interestingly, the case went to trial because judges had rejected two prior plea deals as too lenient.


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112 comments for “When is female genital mutilation just peachy?

  1. seebach
    October 30, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    What kind of monsters are placed on juries nowadays? People blame lawyers for all sorts of horrible decisions, but they get 12 people to go along with this bullshit.

    Insanity.

  2. Bitter Scribe
    October 30, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    I’m going to take a wild guess here and speculate that vengeance for having sex with the boyfriend was a large part of Mom’s motivation.

    Oh, and that jury–what the hell were they smoking?

  3. October 30, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    I think I have to go drink heavily now. Is anyone going to prosecute the 30 year old man for raping the kid or are they just going to keep calling rape acting out?

  4. Mnemosyne
    October 30, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Prosecutors say the piercing was to punish the daughter for having too much sex, including with her mother’s 30 year old boyfriend.

    And the guy is in jail right now for having sex with a 13-year-old, right?

    Right?

    I just hope that this girl is allowed to say, “Hell, NO!” when they try to put her back into crazy mom’s custody.

  5. Lizard
    October 30, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    One of the articles refers to the “five-man, one-woman jury.” Naturally—we’re all about letting men make decisions involving women’s genitals in this country, after all. I’m going to speculate that those five guys are probably big fans of Purity Balls.

    This is the single most disturbing thing I’ve read all week.

  6. October 30, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    HOLY FUCKING SHIT. That is all I can say just now.

  7. zuzu
    October 30, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Is anyone going to prosecute the 30 year old man for raping the kid or are they just going to keep calling rape acting out?

    There is, thankfully, a warrant out for his arrest, but I have to wonder whether that would have happened had child protective services not been called.

  8. kate
    October 30, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Five men and one woman? Zuzu, wouldn’t the prosecutor have had a little more control over jury selection and thus been able to put more women on there? Just wondering how this came about, stupid or powerless?

    As for the jury themselves, seems no surprise to me really (unfortunately) as I seem to hear people regularly disregard teenage girls who have sex as disposable. I agree, I think mom was punishing daughter for (seducing she’d say I’m sure) boyfriend’s raping her.

    Disgusting. Was the prosecutor asleep on this?

  9. harlemjd
    October 30, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    “Keep in mind, this was in the United States of America, not Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or somewhere like that.”

    Cliteradectomy used to be a “cure” for sexually active girls in western societies too, including the US. Though I suppose the ones who got that were lucky – Joe Kennedy signed his daughter up for a frontal lobotomy when she started “acting up.”

  10. Meghan
    October 30, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Perhaps the jury should punish this woman for every bad decision she makes. I’d hazard a guess this isn’t the first bad decision she’s made that resulted in her teenager “acting out.” Seems sort of like a vicious cycle with the only truly injured party being the child.

  11. zuzu
    October 30, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Kate, jury selection methods vary widely. In some courts, the judge does all the questioning and the first 6-12 people qualified get seated. The parties usually have unlimited challenges for cause, and only so many preremptorty challenges (for any reason). Those are limited for good reason, since in the past, parties would use them to strike minority or female jurors.

    I’m guessing this was a case of the first six qualified jurors getting seated on this particular jury.

    What’s weird is that it got to a jury at all, since the court had rejected two prior plea deals for being too lenient (which was a comment on the prosecutor’s judgment in accepting the deals). Speedy trial rules probably forced a trial after the two rejected pleas. And now there’s no appeal from this decision because of double jeopardy.

  12. La Lubu
    October 30, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Shit, damn, motherfucker. Lemme see if I got this straight—

    1. Boyfriend rapes 13-year old daughter.
    2. Mom does not call police on boyfriend; mom blames daughter.
    3. Mom has daughter’s head shaved, in the hopes that boyfriend will find daughter too ugly to fuck.
    4. Boyfriend continues to rape daughter. For years.
    5. Mom has friend “pierce” daughter’s genitalia, in such a way that it will make it even more painful for the daughter when mom’s boyfriend rapes her again.
    6. “Piercing” gets infected.
    7. Child protection finally called in.
    8. Piercer goes to jail.
    9. Mom put on trial for the piercing, but not for allowing the rapes? WTF, Chuck?
    10. Mom acquitted.
    11. Finally, an arrest warrant is put out for mom’s rapist boyfriend.

    Excuse me, but isn’t there some kind of provision for the judge to override this bullshit? For fuck’s sake, this is equivalent to a drunk driver having the defense, “but yerhonor (hic!) I didn’t mean to run into those people and mutilate ’em, I was just going home, and they got in the way” and a jury saying, “oh yeah. been there. no harm done.” I mean, isn’t it crystal-fucking clear that the jury paid no attention to the law?

  13. Julie
    October 30, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    That makes me want to vomit. What the hell is wrong with people?

  14. Bloix
    October 30, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Zuzu, your righteous indignation here shows an almost complete ignorance of the facts of this case. You can’t read one poorly written news article and draw the kinds of conclusions you’ve drawn here.

    I’ve explained what actually happened here in some detail over at Lawyers, Guns and Money. As I show in the comments there, this mother was willing to plead guilty to the crime of child abuse, as defined in Florida law, which is what she was certainly guilty of. She was not willing to plead guilty to aggravated child abuse – a different felony carrying potentially decades of jail time – which she was not guilty of.

    For some unknown reason, the judge refused to accept her guilty plea and forced the case to go to trial on the aggravated child abuse charge. The jury acquitted because the facts do not support the aggravated offense. The jury was not permitted to convict her of the lesser crime of child abuse.

    You talk at some length about punishment. That was an issue in the trial because one way to get from child abuse to aggravated child abuse is that the harm was inflicted with the intent to “maliciously punish.” Not just to punish, but to do so maliciously. The word “malicious’ requires proof of actual subjective intent. The jury may not simply infer malicious conduct from the fact of the action, which is what you say they should have done.

    The mother’s defense was that the reason for the piercing was to prevent her daughter from having sex in the future, not to punish her. The daughter herself testified that she “not sure” that she was being punished. Given the mother’s explanation, the daughter’s lack of certainty, and the presumption of innocence, the jury could not fairly have found that the mother had intended to “maliciously punish” her daughter.

    Another way to make child abuse into aggravated child abuse is to show that “permanent disfigurement” resulted from the harm. That is why permanent disfigurement was an issue. In this case the wound healed completely and there was no permanent disfigurement. Therefore, no aggravated child abuse.

    And this is not “female genital mutilation,” a term with a specific meaning, that is, removal of the clitoris. If the mother had done that, she would certainly have been guilty of – and convicted of – aggravated child abuse.

    This is a 30-year prison sentence we’re talking about. Go read the statute – it’s in my comments at LGM.

    What seems to be going on here is some sort of feud or ill will between this judge and this prosecutor. Or, perhaps, the judge really wanted to imprison the mother for 30 years. It is bizarre that he did not allow her to plead guilty to child abuse, which is what both she and the prosecutor wanted. But whatever was going on, no one thought that abuse of the girl was “just peachy.”

  15. zuzu
    October 30, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Right, Bloix. There was no punishment whatsoever involved in piercing the daughter’s genitals because she’d had sex with the mother’s boyfriend.

    If there was an element that wasn’t proven, it was likely that of permanent disfigurement, because piercings do tend to heal over time.

    I’ve already mentioned that it was weird that the judge didn’t allow a lesser charge to be included on the verdict form, which seems to be the case. So you’re calling me ignorant, why, exactly?

    But whatever was going on, no one thought that abuse of the girl was “just peachy.”

    You clearly didn’t read the quote from the jury foreman, who thought that this was no more than taking a slutty girl in hand, and no more than any exasperated parent would do.

  16. zuzu
    October 30, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    You talk at some length about punishment

    One sentence is “at some length?”

    Dude, go back to LGM and see if anyone cares.

  17. Bloix
    October 30, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    Zuzu, malicious punishment and disfigurement are alternative ways to bump the crime of child abuse up to aggravated child abuse. If the prosecution had proven either one, she would have been convicted of aggravated child abuse.

    Remember Dr Kevorkian, the assisted suicide doctor? He was acquitted of murder more than once because his defense was that he intended only to relieve pain, not to kill. He was acquitted even though the drugs he administered did kill. The issue was one of subjective intent. And that was the issue here. All the evidence was that the mother wanted to stop the girl from having sex. If that was her motivation then she was not guilty of malicious intent to punish – even if a reasonable person would conclude that what she did was in fact punishment. There is no ‘reasonable person’ standard for criminal intent. You can see that the jury forman concluded that the mother did not intend to punish, even though her decision was a bad one. The jurors didn’t have a choice to reach any other conclusion, given the evidence before him.

    I did not call you ignorant, and you’re certainly not ignorant, you’re generally informed and thought-provoking, which is why I like to read your posts. (Although a steady of diet of zuzu without any jill would be exhausting.) I said you showed ignorance of the facts of this case, which happens to you sometimes when you let your hair-trigger indignation get in the way of your intelligence. You labelled the events here female genital mutilation, when clearly FGM is not at issue, and you sarcastically speculated that the jury reached the decision that it did based on racial or religious grounds, when clearly the jury had no choice but to acquit, given the position the judge put it in. Your comments are intended be inflammatory and they’re not based on fact. But I didn’t think you were intentionally misrepresenting the case, and so I said that you showed ignorance of the facts. On the other hand, ignorance is a strong word, insulting beyond its literal meaning, and I shouldn’t have used it. I didn’t intend to be insulting, merely to show some exasperation. My apologies.

  18. zuzu
    October 30, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Bloix, punkin, there is such a thing as hyperbole. And since this ain’t a court of law, I’m entirely free to engage in it.

    Moreover, I think you’re way the fuck off base comparing this to Dr. Kevorkian. Kevorkian assisted the suicides of fully-aware adults and only fucked up when he got a little cocky about getting consent. His patients weren’t held down on a table and pierced against their will.

    I find it really disturbing that you can excuse the fact that this mother had sharp objects driven through the genitals of her unwilling daughter and you’re neither willing to call it mutilation nor to see that the intent, particularly in combination with the head-shaving and the fact that the mother’s boyfriend was having sex with the daughter, was to punish. I think, frankly, that you’re exhibiting the same kind of bias that the jury was, in viewing a 13-year-old who was having sex with a 30-year-old as out of control and a problem rather than as the victim of the 30-year-old. The sexual contact between the boyfriend and the daughter was statutory rape, and the mother shouldn’t be able to get out of claiming that her frankly horrifying and punitive reaction to that was child abuse by asserting that she was just intending to get her daughter under control, not to punish her.

    At some point, the law has to refuse to accept lame fucking excuses and put the blame where it belongs, on the adults who let this kind of shit go on.

  19. October 30, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Bloix, there’s a large range of modifications which can be considered female genital mutilation, including the application of herbs to change the shape of the vagina. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_cutting

    Zuzu’s point is that this does fall into the category of genital mutilation. It’s a modification to a girl’s genitals intended to make sex uncomfortable for her. It’s racist of us to call clitoridectomy, infibulation, etc. mutiliation while this is, what? A simple mistake? A difference in opinion about parenting styles? You are probably right about the legal arguments, but that doesn’t make her points about how this case is being framed in the courts and the media any less valid. The quote from the jury foreman is sickening.

    On the subject of the post, blaming a girl for being raped by an adult is far, far too common. I hope this girl gets stays out of that situation and gets the help she so obviously needs. And I hope the stepfather goes to jail.

  20. preying mantis
    October 30, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    “And this is not “female genital mutilation,” a term with a specific meaning, that is, removal of the clitoris.”

    So chopping off the labia and clitoral hood doesn’t count so long as they don’t go that extra mile and dig out the clitoris itself? Guess we owe some Egyptians an apology.

  21. EG
    October 30, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Simply appalling. Can you imagine what would have happened if the rapist scum had gotten the girl pregnant, and her mother had forced her to have an abortion in order to better “control” her? Yet somehow this is OK. This woman should lose custody immediately.

  22. October 31, 2007 at 12:02 am

    this is the most fucked up thing i have ever read!!!

    how the fuck does a reasonable person conclude that this was not, given the facts, intended to punish the girl? that mother is pretty fucking sick, and her actions only show selfishness and flagrant disregard for the well being of her child!

    The mother’s defense was that the reason for the piercing was to prevent her daughter from having sex in the future, not to punish her. The daughter herself testified that she “not sure” that she was being punished. Given the mother’s explanation, the daughter’s lack of certainty, and the presumption of innocence, the jury could not fairly have found that the mother had intended to “maliciously punish” her daughter.

    so, as a mother, it’s my choice if my daughter should have sex or not? how about choosing NOT to let my boyfriend continually rape her? pretty sure i got that one down. and for fuck’s sake, let’s ask a traumatized teenager if she is being punished, after everything she has been through. jesus fucking christ, noone was looking out for her!

    how the fuck does one justify sending the person who does the piercing to jail, but letting the mother off scott free? only a sick twisted person could look at someone who HELD HER CHILD DOWN AND HAD HER FUCKING GENITALS PIERCED and say “hrmm…no that doesn’t seem malicious to me…hrmm”.

    All the evidence was that the mother wanted to stop the girl from having sex. If that was her motivation then she was not guilty of malicious intent to punish – even if a reasonable person would conclude that what she did was in fact punishment.

    let’s look at malice, shall we?

    1 : desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another
    2 : intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse

    there is NO justification for doing this to you child. this is not a difference in parenting styles, or just a bad decision. wearing a bikini in a blizzard is a bad decision, getting married after a parent dies is a bad decision…this is fucked up.

    maybe this is just the mother in me getting pissed off…but fuck…the legal system has outright FAILED this girl.

    for the love of everything sacred i hope she has a safe place to go.

    and zuzu…you rock the casbah, no matter what anyone says.

  23. blix
    October 31, 2007 at 12:11 am

    Zuzu – I didn’t excuse the mother’s behavior. I said she was guilty of child abuse, which is a felony, but she was not guilty of aggravated child abuse, which is a different and more serious felony.

    I didn’t say that I believe that she did not intend to punish. I would guess that her motives were mixed. But the evidence did not meet the legal standard of proving malicious intent beyond a reasonable doubt, and so the jury did the right thing. She was acquitted of the crime that she was tried for, although she was clearly guiilty of the lesser offense and even tried to plead guilty to it. What is going on here was some bizarre weirdness having to do with the judge, and there is no cause to speculate about racism or religous prejudice among the jurors.

    Dr Confused – Piercing of the labia is generally not considered FGM. Her injury has healed and she is not mutilated. Mutilation implies permanent injury. There was no “permanent disfigurement,” which is a pretty good synomym for mutilation. I don’t know what race or racism has to do with it.

    I think you’re probably right that the girl was raped and went on to act out. I think the mother had no idea what to do, and took action out of ignorance, fear, anger, and lack of support. I can’t imagine what good you think that putting her in prison for 30 years would do. But both of you seem to think that letting her die in a cell would be the fair and just result.

  24. blix
    October 31, 2007 at 12:12 am

    Shit, I misspelled my own name.

  25. bloix
    October 31, 2007 at 12:14 am

    EG, she’s already lost custody. She hasn’t had custody for 3 years. This isn’t about whether she’s a good mother. This is about whether she should spend the next 3 decades behind bars.

  26. October 31, 2007 at 12:24 am

    I think you’re probably right that the girl was raped and went on to act out. I think the mother had no idea what to do, and took action out of ignorance, fear, anger, and lack of support. I can’t imagine what good you think that putting her in prison for 30 years would do.

    Um, keep her from getting custody of her daughter back? Prevent her from bringing another rapist boyfriend into the house? Stop her from coming up with an even more creative way to punish her daughter for being a rape victim? All of those seem like pretty good reasons to put someone in jail.

    I’m also a little astounded that you don’t seem to realize how specific a punishment the head-shaving was, given the history of “bad” women having their heads forcibly shaved. It is, absolutely and undeniably, meant to be a punishment for wrong sexuality.

    The woman punished her daughter because she was raped. But, hey, can’t send her to jail for too long because she didn’t know any better, right?

  27. October 31, 2007 at 12:26 am

    Oh, and when a 30-year-old man has sex with a 13-year-old girl, she wasn’t “probably” raped. In every state in the country, it’s rape.

  28. Shannon
    October 31, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Whoa whoa whoa. this mother did that to her DAUGHTER? that is really fucked up–and not only that–but she violated her daughter’s body and rights. she shaved her daughter’s head to make her ugly so she wouldn’t fuck around right? that’s not going to stop all the other 13 year old girls from having sex now is it? if i were part of that jury–i’d have the mother put away in jail. and if anything–the girl would be way better off in a foster home or at least somewhere SAFE from her own mother! you kno–the one who actually GAVE BIRTH to this girl? my GOD–what people do these days….

  29. EG
    October 31, 2007 at 12:41 am

    I think the mother had no idea what to do, and took action out of ignorance, fear, anger, and lack of support

    Uh-huh. And the actions she took were heinously abusive and put her daughter in harm’s way. Jail seems to me like a reasonable place for her to be.

  30. somechemstudent
    October 31, 2007 at 12:43 am

    And this is not “female genital mutilation,” a term with a specific meaning, that is, removal of the clitoris.

    Piercing of the labia is generally not considered FGM. Her injury has healed and she is not mutilated. Mutilation implies permanent injury. There was no “permanent disfigurement,” which is a pretty good synomym for mutilation. I don’t know what race or racism has to do with it.

    There is more the the act of FGM than the removal of the clitoris or any permanent disfigurement. It is the intent behind the act, whether it’s removing the clitoris or jabbing a needle through the labia to make sex more painful, that stripes a woman of her basic human rights. It takes no stretch of the imagination or any convoluted twisting of meanings to see what this woman did to her child as FGM.

  31. October 31, 2007 at 1:15 am

    ok…my comment is held up in mod…prolly cuz i got a tad bit ranty and used a few too many explicitives?

    anyhow…i am relieved (only slightly, since i am sure it will be a matter of time b/f she gets her back) that she has lost custody. but i disagree…this most certainly is about her being a bad mother…good mothers do not intentionally hurt their children…and yes…she should rot in a cell for 30 years. if the poor girl hadn’t gotten an infection, and the piercing noticed and removed, it would have been much worse. that woman was lucky to get caught.

    simply calling it child abuse doesn’t even begin to cover it. if the girl had DIED from infection…would that have been enough…ugh…i am w/ redqueen…i need a drink.

    i can not believe that there are actually people defending the bullshit that this jury and judge pulled.

  32. Tony
    October 31, 2007 at 1:29 am

    Wow, this rivals the “she was asking for it” excuse juries give when they sometimes acquit rapists.

  33. Ailurophile
    October 31, 2007 at 1:33 am

    There’s no excuse for what this woman did. I hope she is punished. I don’t care how desperate or ignorant or whatever she was, you DO NOT ABUSE YOUR CHILD.

    And a thirty-year-old man with a thirteen year old girl is rape (and he is scum) no matter how you put it.

  34. kate
    October 31, 2007 at 1:46 am

    Zuzu:

    What’s weird is that it got to a jury at all, since the court had rejected two prior plea deals for being too lenient (which was a comment on the prosecutor’s judgment in accepting the deals)

    I think Bloix hit on a point that possibly there was something going on between the judge and the prosecutor. I would infer that possibly the judge was outraged at the women’s behavior and likely outraged that the prosecutor offered two rather lame plea deals and therefore did what he thought best and forced it to trial. More than likely, he figured the evidence would disgust most juries and garner a guilty verdict.

    I can see bloix’s point about the limitations inherent in finding supportive evidence for ‘mutilation’ if such means permanent disfigurement. Possibly, permanent disfigurement cannot be stretched to include permanent psychological trauma?

    I wonder, was an expert witness called to assess the state of mind of the daughter after the incident and the nature of the mother/daughter relationship and possibly to bring up the commonality of mothers of sexual abuse victims often viewing the victim (their daughter) as competition and thus harboring jealousy and its attendant behavioral results? Or is that stretching too far?

    Couldn’t the daughter’s testimony been thrown out as being too ambivalent (she didn’t quite understand or couldn’t analyze “punishment” outside the context of whether she was bad or not)or emotionally immature or traumatized?

    Wouldn’t the prosecutor been wise to attempt to head off the blaming/bad girl thinking first, knowing it would be the primary defense, which of course it was and seems, what one the day in some sense.

  35. CassandraSays
    October 31, 2007 at 2:43 am

    Holy fucking shit! How the hell is the mother not doing jail time for this? Has the DA been asleep for the past few months?

    And I agree with zuzu etc. Shaving women’s heads to punish them for percieved sluttiness has a long and distinctly sketchy history. Anyone who isn’t getting that really needs to pick up a history book. Also, mutilating a kid’s genitals doesn’t magically become less evil just because it happens in the USA.

  36. Cheshire
    October 31, 2007 at 3:23 am

    God. Words fail me.

  37. Christopher
    October 31, 2007 at 3:44 am

    Blix, I don’t understand why you’re arguing about whether this was female genital mutilation.

    I personally, don’t particularly think that “mutilation” implies permanent damage, and Merriam-Webster seems to agree.

    Also, really, very few people are inclined to be sympathetic to somebody who holds her own daughter down and stabs her in the genitals.

    You might get people to agree that life is too high a sentence, but for most of us, once you go down that road we don’t really give a shit what happens to you.

    I’m also not sure about the punishment issue; since the mother’s entire case seems to have rested on whether or not she had intent to punish, she has good reason to lie. The daughter, meanwhile, has been the victim of pretty heinous abuse, and I wouldn’t expect her to have a clear objective sense of her mother’s motives.

    Lastly, apparently the mother did the piercing to make it uncomfortable for her daughter to have sex.

    So… it was, in fact, an effort at future punishment; rather then preventing the behavior, the piercing was designed to hurt the daughter after she had decided to have sex.

    Which sounds like punishment to me.

    I don’t think things are necessarily as cut and dried as you make them out to be.

  38. October 31, 2007 at 3:50 am

    “A jury deliberated for about three hours before deciding the mother’s actions didn’t involve punishment or malicious intent, or cause permanent damage or disfigurement.”

    Okay, so maybe it didn’t cause permanent physical damage, but my goodness, what about emotional damage? There is no way the girl could have gone through that and NOT been emotionally damaged (probably permanently, or at least permanently enough that she will no doubt end up in therapy some day). I am not familiar with the law so maybe it’s not possible to “prove” that kind of thing.

  39. Christopher
    October 31, 2007 at 3:59 am

    Oh, I have something to add:

    Bloix: In the Lawyers, Guns and Money thread you posted the relevant Florida law, which, among other things, says it’s aggravated child abuse if a parent “Willfully tortures” a child.

    What’s the definition of torture in that law? Because again, the intent of the piercing was to cause pain and discomfort if the daughter engaged in an activity that, by her mother’s reckoning, she was very likely to engage in again.

    And, depending on how the piercing was performed, couldn’t the act in and of itself constitute torture?

    Whether or not this was meant to punish, it WAS meant to cause pain.

  40. La Lubu
    October 31, 2007 at 8:06 am

    What’s the definition of torture in that law? Because again, the intent of the piercing was to cause pain and discomfort if the daughter engaged in an activity that, by her mother’s reckoning, she was very likely to engage in again.

    Exactly. Mom wasn’t about to stop her boyfriend from continuing to rape her daughter (who started being raped when she was eleven), so since the head-shaving didn’t appear to keep mom’s boyfriend from raping the girl, mom held her down while a friend poked a scratch awl through the girl’s genitalia, and added a piercing. A piercing where the intent was to cause pain (the “punishment”).

    How was the piercing going to cause pain? By tearing and shredding the girl’s vaginal lips every time mom’s boyfriend raped her.

    Bloix, do you care to patiently explain how this is not malicious? Would you consider it malicious if someone held you down, cut through and pierced your genitalia in a manner intended to cause tearing, shredding and bleeding every time you had sex? Particularly if that “sex” was actually someone else raping you on the regular? What if someone did that to you as a teenager? While your own parent stood by and did nothing when you were raped since the age of eleven?

    Is it malicious enough yet?!

    Zuzu was spot-the-fuck-on when calling this female genital mutilation. This “piercing” was never intended to heal. It’s intent was to be a daily reminder of just how this mother regarded her daughter—as a filthy little slut, for “stealing” mama’s boyfriend.

  41. October 31, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Although a steady of diet of zuzu…

    I read that, for some reason, as “diet zuzu” – and imagined zuzu as a drink with a sugar subsitute…. Eh heh heh. Don’t what I’ve been drinking myself today. For the record – it was coffee.

    Anyways.

    Bloix – I see where you’re coming from, and if this is truly the case, the initial screw-up is with the judge. HOWEVER, I am very, very disturbed by the words of foreman Colin Kelly. In fact, his words make it seem as though the jury did not, in fact, have much regard for the difference between child abuse and aggravated child abuse. It may have been a “bad decision” by the parent, but it was done to stop the slutty harlot from, you know, being more of a slutty harlot! Who is Colin Kelly, after all, to decide whether or not the girl was “out of control”? The girl, as we know, was raped by an adult man. Whether or not he held her down and forced her, or got her to trust him first (as adult men sometimes do when targeting girls) – this is still rape.

    I’m going to side with some of the posters here and suggest that the mother, upon discovering what was going on, decided to displace blame.

  42. Thomas, TSID
    October 31, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Bloix, Natalia makes a good point. The jury foreman’s obvious sympathy to the mother’s draconian treatment of her daughter suggests that at least he was looking to let the mother off entirely, rather than for the proper charge. The judge did everyone a disservice by denying the jury the lesser-included option (the article doesn’t say it was barred as a lesser included, but it follows that if he rejected it as a plea he also rejected it as a lesser included). But the jury’s conclusion sucks. The evidence of malice is palpable. Her boyfriend raped her daughter and she blamed the daughter and punished her, rather than calling hte police and having him arrested.

    My spouse’s initial reaction is that the mother herself is almost certainly the product of abuse, and possibly is abused by the boyfriend, which would explain the conduct. She may fear he’ll kill them both. Barring that, there’s not much to say for her. The malicious intent was evident, and the Jury’s rejection of it does not speak well of them.

  43. Thomas, TSID
    October 31, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Bloix posted some statutes on the LGM thread; here’s Aggravated Child Abuse:

    (2) “Aggravated child abuse” occurs when a person:
    (a) Commits aggravated battery on a child;
    (b) Willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages a child; or
    (c) Knowingly or willfully abuses a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child.
    A person who commits aggravated child abuse commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

    Note the “willfully tortures” part. Is there any debate that if the US captured an Iraqi woman and pierced her labia shut, we’d call it torture? In what way is this not willful torture, especially when combined with the head-shaving, the stated purpose of which was temporary disfigurement? Deliberate disfigurement plus deliberate infliction of pain to the genitals for the purpose of temporarily disabling them … how is that not torture?

  44. Em
    October 31, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Isn’t ‘aggravated battery’ defined from ‘simple battery’ as when you use something other than your body to commit the offense? Shouldn’t a piercing needle have counted?

  45. Thomas, TSID
    October 31, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Em, no. Bloix posted the Ag Battery portion at LGM, which says this:

    Section 784.045 Aggravated battery.–
    (1)(a) A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:
    1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or
    2. Uses a deadly weapon.

    Now, some states have fucked up law about what a deadly weapon is — in New York, dripping hot candle wax on someone is assault with a deadly weapon; don’t get me started on NY state law and BDSM. But barring fucked up caselaw, I think a piercing needle is not a deadly weapon.

    But Bloix is hanging his hat on the lack of permanent injury, and on the jury’s rather generous (bullshit) interpretation of her intent. I don’t think either are necessary, as I think the conduct meets Sub-section 2(b) based on “willful[] torture[]” even without malice.

  46. Bloix
    October 31, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Thomas TSID you have a career as a prosecutor ahead of you. You can argue cases like, when someone kicks you with his shoes on, that’s not just assault, that’s assault with a deadly weapon. There are all sorts of sophistical arguments that prosecutors make that are designed to drive up the amount of time that people can be locked up. Lots of people seem to be looking for a way to put this woman behind bars for as long as possible. Why is that?

    “Torture” is the infliction of severe pain for the purpose of the infliction of pain. Willful torture means that the person inflicting the pain has the subjective intent to inflict pain. There is no sign that the mother did what she did in order to inflict pain. That is why there is a difference between child abuse and aggravated child abuse. Child abuse always involves the infliction of pain – but the infliction of pain has to be qualitatively different in character for the abuse to be aggravated child abuse.

    Em- you can look up the definition of aggravated battery in Florida very easily. Here it is:

    Section 784.045 Aggravated battery.–
    (1)(a) A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:
    1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or
    2. Uses a deadly weapon.

    Maybe you and Thomas can go to work for the same prosecutor’s office and argue together that a tattoo artist’s piercing needle is a deadly weapon. After all, you could stab someone through the eye with it.

    I for one hope that I never have either of you on a jury that I appear in front of. Your thirst for punishment is a little frightening.

  47. Bloix
    October 31, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Thomas TSID you have a career as a prosecutor ahead of you. You can argue cases like, when someone kicks you with his shoes on, that’s not just assault, that’s assault with a deadly weapon. There are all sorts of sophistical arguments that prosecutors make that are designed to drive up the amount of time that people can be locked up. Lots of people seem to be looking for a way to put this woman behind bars for as long as possible. She admitted that she abused her child. She has lost custody of her. She was willing to plead guilty to child abuse. But that’s not enough – people want her to go to prison for decades. Why is that?

    “Torture” is the infliction of severe pain for the purpose of the infliction of pain. Willful torture means that the person inflicting the pain has the subjective intent to inflict pain. And just the infliction of pain is not torture. If A punches B in the mouth, A has caused B pain, but A has not tortured B.

    There is no sign that the mother did what she did in order to inflict severe pain. That is why there is a difference between child abuse and aggravated child abuse. Child abuse always involves the infliction of pain – but the infliction of pain has to be qualitatively different in character for the abuse to be aggravated child abuse.

    Em- you can look up the definition of aggravated battery in Florida very easily. Here it is:

    Section 784.045 Aggravated battery.–
    (1)(a) A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:
    1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or
    2. Uses a deadly weapon.

    Maybe you and Thomas can go to work for the same prosecutor’s office and argue together that a tattoo artist’s piercing needle is a deadly weapon. After all, you could stab someone through the eye with it.

    I for one hope that I never have either of you on a jury that I appear in front of. Your thirst for punishment and is a little frightening.

  48. Bloix
    October 31, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Thomas TSID you have a career as a prosecutor ahead of you. You can argue cases like, when someone kicks you with his shoes on, that’s not just assault, that’s assault with a deadly weapon. There are all sorts of sophistical arguments that prosecutors make that are designed to drive up the amount of time that people can be locked up. Lots of people seem to be looking for a way to put this woman behind bars for as long as possible. She admitted that she abused her child. She has lost custody of her. She was willing to plead guilty to child abuse. But that’s not enough – people want her to go to prison for decades. Why is that?

    “Torture” is the infliction of severe pain for the purpose of the infliction of pain. Willful torture means that the person inflicting the pain has the subjective intent to inflict pain. And just the infliction of pain is not torture. If A punches B in the mouth, A has caused B pain, but A has not tortured B.

    There is no sign that the mother did what she did in order to inflict severe pain. That is why there is a difference between child abuse and aggravated child abuse. Child abuse always involves the infliction of pain – but the infliction of pain has to be qualitatively different in character for the abuse to be aggravated child abuse.

    Em- you can look up the definition of aggravated battery in Florida very easily. Here it is:

    Section 784.045 Aggravated battery.–
    (1)(a) A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:
    1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or
    2. Uses a deadly weapon.

    Maybe you and Thomas can go to work for the same prosecutor’s office and argue together that a tattoo artist’s piercing needle is a deadly weapon. After all, you could stab someone through the eye with it.

    I hope that I never have either of you on a jury that I appear in front of. Your thirst for punishment is a little frightening.

  49. Em
    October 31, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Your lawyerly scorn of laypersons is duly noted. Do you talk this way to all the little people?

    How is what the mother did not qualitatively different from ordinary child abuse? Do most abusers use needles and piercings? I must be behind the times if all the cool abusive parents are doing it.

  50. October 31, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Not knowing anything about Florida law, I won’t enter that specific debate.

    However, I will simply make the observation, “The ends do not justify the means”. The jury foreman’s comments were totally out of order.

    Reflecting upon the wider philosophical nature of punishment, Bloix asks, “does this woman deserve to go to prison for 30 years?” My answer is yes, on the grounds of protection of society; on the grounds of deterrent; and on the grounds of reform, in that she clearly needs psychiatric help (i.e. she should initially be sent to a prison mental institution) if she felt this was an okay thing to do and a rational approach to the situation. I can’t speak on whether Florida law allowed them to send her to prison for 30 years, but I can say that I feel she deserved such a punishment.

  51. Eruvande
    October 31, 2007 at 11:47 am

    This is about whether she should spend the next 3 decades behind bars.

    She should spend 6, as far as I’m concerned. Rather than punish a child predator, she lashed out at her own daughter. Do you know how 13-year-old girls can be to you if you only get a bad haircut, much less have your head shaved by your crazy mother? And that’s not even touching the concept (which, frankly, makes me throw up in my mouth a little) of HOLDING YOUR OWN FLESH-AND-BLOOD DAUGHTER DOWN WHILE SOMEONE POKES METAL THINGS INTO AND THROUGH HER VULVA.

    Being blamed for your own rape is torture. Period. Being physically punished for it is torture. Period. Piercing someone’s genitals for the express purpose of causing that person so much pain that sex is impossible…::drumroll::…IS TORTURE. PERIOD.

    If she does not go to prison, she should be in a mental hospital. I never want to meet this woman on the street. This is a travesty of justice and everyone who let this happen is a fucking moron.

  52. Thomas, TSID
    October 31, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    I’m no layperson. In fact, before I found my current practice area, I was a criminal defense attorney.

    Torture is not defined as you assert. Wiktionary says:

    torture (plural tortures)

    1. Certain, clearly defined acts perpetrated against helpless prisoners, to force them to suffer excruciating pain and discomfort.
    2. Cruel and outrageous acts that terrorize helpless prisoners to force or coerce them to react in a way that satisfies the torturer.
    Allowing large dogs to attack bound, hand-cuffed prisoners is clearly torture.
    3. Any act committed by an official of a government against a prisoner of war which could cause undue pain, as clearly defined by many international agreements.
    In every war there are acts of torture that cause the world to shudder.
    4. (mainly literary) The “suffering of the heart” imposed by one on another, as in personal relationships.
    Every time she says ‘goodbye’ it is torture!

    This was #2: a cruel act to coerce and terrorize her daughter to refrain from sex; in the same was as the Yakuza custom of small-digit amputation as atonement deters failure through terror.

    Dictionary.com says:

    1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.
    2. a method of inflicting such pain.
    3. Often, tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone.
    4. extreme anguish of body or mind; agony.
    5. a cause of severe pain or anguish.
    –verb (used with object) 6. to subject to torture.
    7. to afflict with severe pain of body or mind: My back is torturing me.
    8. to force or extort by torture: We’ll torture the truth from his lips!
    9. to twist, force, or bring into some unnatural position or form: trees tortured by storms.
    10. to distort or pervert (language, meaning, etc.).

    This is certainly number 5.

    She willfully inflicted severe pain on her child, in a gruesome manner, to coerce her into altering her behavior.

    Now, do you have a definition of torture from the statute or the case law of somewhere other that your preference?

    Sure, there are arguments for the lesser charge. There are even arguments that could, and did, get a jury to acquit. But Bloix, when I made those arguments for a living, I didn’t make the mistake of believing that they were true in everyone else’s case. Putting myself in a place where I could advocate for my clients is one thing; walking around with lenses that justify the evil deeds of everyone is something else. It is an occupational hazard.

  53. Mnemosyne
    October 31, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    “Torture” is the infliction of severe pain for the purpose of the infliction of pain. Willful torture means that the person inflicting the pain has the subjective intent to inflict pain. There is no sign that the mother did what she did in order to inflict pain.

    You mean, other than the fact that she admitted that she did it so her daughter would experience pain if she had sex?

    I guess you must be a defense attorney if you can argue that there’s a meaningful difference between deliberately inflicting pain in the moment and deliberately doing something that hurts in the moment and will continue to inflict pain later, and therefore the woman’s not guilty of willful torture.

    And, really, you’re surprised that an abuse victim isn’t willing to send her abuser to prison? It’s pretty much the most common phenomenon out there, which is why many states don’t allow women to withdraw abuse complaints. It’s even more common with child abuse victims, who don’t want to see Mommy or Daddy get punished just because the child was bad — after all, Mommy or Daddy says that they got punished because they were bad, and they must be right, because they’re the parents, right?

  54. Betty Boondoggle
    October 31, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    “Is it malicious enough yet?!”

    Apparently not. Or least its not malicious if done to females.

    I wonder how Mr Lawyers Guns and Money’s opinion would have changed where these cruel punishments doled out to 13 year old boy?

  55. Marle
    October 31, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    What is wrong with people who don’t see this as a completely horrible and disgusting crime? How can anyone look at this and say that it’s ok that the jury acquitted her, because otherwise she’d get 30 years? How does mutilating your own daughter’s genitals with the *hope* that sex will then be too painful for her not count as one of the most horrible things a person can do? (To those who are men and disagree with me) How would you feel if someone mutilated your penis so sex was then painful for you? How does that sound? Would you think that the person who did that to you should be acquitted or maybe get probation or house arrest or something? Or would you want the justice system to give them an actual punishment?

  56. Mnemosyne
    October 31, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    I wonder how Mr Lawyers Guns and Money’s opinion would have changed where these cruel punishments doled out to 13 year old boy?

    To be clear, LGM was completely horrified by them. What we have here is someone from the comments of LGM defending the decision, not one of the LGM bloggers.

  57. October 31, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Have ranted incoherently in my own space. I’m really finding it hard to articulate words right not that aren’t sweary.

  58. October 31, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Really horrific. The mother and her boyfriend should both be doing time.

  59. skywi
    October 31, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    I live in Naples and I watched part of this trial. The mother did not testify, and her attorney’s closing argument focused on “parents today have a tough time controlling their children, this woman did this with the best of motives, bc the daughter was out of control, there was no intent to torture, there was no permanent disfigurement, etc.” The judge is taking quite a bit of heat in the local paper’s blog for not accepting the proposed plea agreements, and those who say the judge wanted a harsher sentence are correct. This judge is known for that, but obviously it backfired on him. This is a conservative, Republican town, and I think the jurors focused on the part of the argument that said, “the government shouldn’t take away parents’ rights to discipline their children, even if they make poor choices.” IMO, that argument resonated deeply with the jurors.

    The girl testified that (notwithstanding her legal inability to consent) her relationship with the mom’s boyfriend was consensual. She also said that she initially told her mother she was sexually active with another 13-year-old, which is when mom got her birth control pills. Again, a decision with which many may disagree, but not totally unreasonable under the circumstances. I agree that the piercing went too far, but this mom is uneducated and unsophisticated. Having seen her in court, I can’t say she wasn’t trying to do the best she could at the time, although her choice was appalling (and I probably would have voted for conviction).

  60. Mary T
    October 31, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Jesus Christ. Just the head-shaving against her will is child abuse, much less the piercing. Feel totally fucking ill now. (sorry for all the profanity)

  61. lindsaypw
    October 31, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    It’s just impossible for parents to just leave their kid’s genitals alone isn’t it? What with circumcision and now this. Now I bet some freak ass parents out there are going to do this to their daughter and they won’t get in trouble because “they’re just parents that made a bad decision”. I guess with that line of logic, any parent that kills/abuses their child will get acquitted because it was just “a bad decision”.

    I have to agree to, shouldn’t the mom have punished her fuckwit boyfriend rather than her daughter? I think this has all to do with revenge and control and nothing about caring for her daughter’s interests. What a sick person, and what a sick jury.

    WTF!

  62. nonskanse
    October 31, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Bloix,
    Even looking at the letter of the law, how is it that the mother did not cause great bodily harm?

    Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm

    Going with your quote of Florida law, the mother would have been guilty of aggravated assault (or aggravated child abuse, I don’t know how to look up Florida laws to see).
    I don’t know if putting the mother away for 30 years is the solution, but she is most definitely guitly of the crime. She definitely had intent to cause continual pain, or at least discomfort, to her daughter.

    Perhaps you disagree that this was intent to cause *great* harm. I however have labia and would argue that any unwanted piercing would cause me great harm against my will. I know the law only mentions bodily harm (not psychological harm). Even so, any piercing hurts like hell, and that area of the body has a lot more nerves, and I can imagine the girl has some post-trauma problems now too. Maybe there is a problem with the letter of the law.
    Maybe the mother isn’t guilty if you take only the word (and not the spirit, or what I hope is the spirit) of the law into account. Maybe the law is broken. Anyone that would stick needles through their child’s genetalia against said child’s will certainly is causing bodily harm, and probably psychological.

    BTW why isn’t the boyfriend being tried for rape??

  63. dinogirl
    October 31, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    I can’t believe people are actually struggling with the idea that this was a punishment. The very fact she believed she had to take her daughter to task for her own rape indicates she felt the kid’s behaviour was to blame and needed to be modified. That is a punishment. I mean, hello? The only evidence it wasn’t a punishment is basically her own testimony – which is not credible.

  64. bloix
    October 31, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    Yes, locking her up for life is too good for her! Let’s stone her to death! And of course we don’t need a trial first because dinogirl tells us that she’s not credible based on a newspaper article!

  65. Mnemosyne
    October 31, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Yes, locking her up for life is too good for her! Let’s stone her to death! And of course we don’t need a trial first because dinogirl tells us that she’s not credible based on a newspaper article!

    Bloix, you do realize that you’re saying it was perfectly fine for a woman to punish her daughter by sticking a piece of unsterilized metal through the girl’s vulva, causing a raging infection?

    If so, remind me to call DCS and find out what you’re up to at home, because you’ve got some pretty fucked-up ideas of what’s acceptable parental behavior.

  66. EG
    October 31, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Yes, locking her up for life is too good for her! Let’s stone her to death!

    Actually, locking her up for life–or almost, depending on how old she is–sounds about right to me.

    And really, you’re actually comparing feminist outrage over a woman violently abusing her daughter, the victim of rape at the hands of the mother’s own boyfriend, with brutal manifestations of patriarchal control over adulterous women? It’s the mother in this case who has a lot in common with those who have stoned women to death.

  67. nonskanse
    October 31, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    Bloix,
    I repeat, why was this not qualifying (see prev post)

  68. Em
    October 31, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Yes, locking her up for life is too good for her! Let’s stone her to death! And of course we don’t need a trial first because dinogirl tells us that she’s not credible based on a newspaper article!

    Okay, seriously. What the hell is wrong with you?

  69. zuzu
    October 31, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Bloix, let me ask you this: If this woman had held down a stranger and pierced her genitals against her will with the express purpose of making sex painful, what would the charge be?

    And would you consider *that* to be serious bodily harm?

  70. zuzu
    October 31, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Another question: why do you assume that the outrage being expressed here translates to a wish to send the mother to jail for 30 years, versus outrage at her getting off scot-free because of slut-shaming by the jury?

  71. Tithonia
    October 31, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    I’m wondering if there was crystal meth in that household…….

  72. William
    October 31, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    Okay, seriously. What the hell is wrong with you?

    Em: He’s a troll. A sophisticated one, but a troll all the same.

  73. October 31, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    So, Bloix gets the Troglodyte Award for this particular thread, I suppose. Caves are nice, we know Bloix, but out here, we’ve developed “informal logic”, which understands that non sequitur, straw men, and complete stupidity are not actually valid arguments. Work on it, bub.

  74. mice
    October 31, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    I don’t mean to defend what happened to this girl, but there is something of a double standard amongst those on this board who are think the “mutilating” parent should be thrown in prison. Each year, hundreds of thousands of parents and doctors have parts of their of their son’s genitalia torn away without anesthesia (it’s called circumcision), and no one seriously suggests they should be locked up.

  75. Eruvande
    October 31, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    I’m fairly sure nobody said the woman shouldn’t have a trial. We’re saying the trial she did have sucked ass, and failed to provide justice.

    Maybe under some weird logic that my girly-anthropology-brain can’t fathom, she didn’t deserve 30 years in prison. But she should have gotten something. If it is true that she did this to her daughter, and true it seems to be, the woman is a danger to society. If the law does not recognize this, the law is flawed. Allowing her to walk away with no penalty whatsoever is a not-so-tacit endorsement of physically altering our kids rather than exploring non-harmful ways of getting them to hold off on sex. To say nothing of allowing child-rapists to walk free by allowing the children they rape to be blamed and shamed.

    It’s really beyond me that anyone could be okay with this. I’ve lost a little faith in humanity today.

  76. Tricia(freya)
    November 1, 2007 at 12:13 am

    William: I’m with you on troll, but I’m not sure about sophisticated. How low have our trolling standards gotten that “able to spell a few multi-syllable words” constitues sophisticated. :-)

    He has proven himself a condescending dumbass, though.

  77. Tricia(freya)
    November 1, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Of course, I’ve just proven that I can’t type, so that may negate my point…

    “constitutes”

  78. November 1, 2007 at 12:38 am

    Shorter Bloix: Whatever feminists say is wrong, and I must disagree, even if it means saying that mutilating a little girl’s genitals is OK!

  79. November 1, 2007 at 1:04 am

    As per mythago’s completely correct statement, I should say that misogyny isn’t defined specifically as an informal logical fallacy, but honestly, when is it not one, in all truthfulness? I suppose it’s ad hominem, but good luck getting these troglodytes to agree. Not that it matters, of course. :(

  80. Coldorderful
    November 1, 2007 at 1:50 am

    This is about whether she should spend the next 3 decades behind bars.

    Oh heck no, all she did was go to her 13 year old rape victim daughter, have her held down while a sharp object was used to involuntarily puncture her labia to “prevent” her from being raped *super strategy there,* and then watch as the child’s involuntary mutilation became infected, with or without more help from her rapist boyfriend is unclear. You better believe that if mom had done something to her son’s penis to make it painful for him to have sex, she’d be going away for 30 years and nobody would have a problem seeing how deranged that is.

    Don’t alter or tough your kids’ genitals, don’t use them as rewards and punishments, don’t violate their human rights.

  81. Be
    November 1, 2007 at 2:28 am

    Damn…

    RE: “Keep in mind, this was in the United States of America, not Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or somewhere like that. It was right here, in our modern, enlightened, Western country, where women supposedly have total equality and freedom from oppression.”

    Can we halt our “we aren’t like a backwards Arab country” argument for a moment? Like for real… chill look back at it examine it critique it. This is why feminist discussions about reflexivity and the politics of location are important. This very example proves everything about Transnational feminism we talk about–looking at (usually in a downward position) “other” countries for what abuses women experience there fails to examine the ways in which our “first world nation” allows for even more detrimental acts of violence against women. Instead of holding “those countries” up in order to distance ourselves from them, examine the ways in which we are just as fucked up if not even more fucked up than those “backwards” colored folk.

    Suggested reading: Chandra Mohanty’s Feminism Without Borders.

  82. zuzu
    November 1, 2007 at 8:20 am

    Can we halt our “we aren’t like a backwards Arab country” argument for a moment? Like for real… chill look back at it examine it critique it.

    I’m rather certain that Trailer Park Feminist was being bitterly sarcastic there. Because those are the countries where this kind of thing supposedly happens, not here, where we’re “enlightened” and all.

    I’m not sure Bloix is a troll (though he’s rather insufferably pompous), but he is working very hard not to understand the point of the post, which was expressing outrage that not only did the mother get off scot-free for this, but that the jury foreman pooh-poohed the injury to the girl because she was “out of control” (read: sexually active).

    Instead, he’s constructed some fantasia where feminists are authoritarian punishment queens and are disappointed that she didn’t get the specific recommended sentence for the specific crime.

  83. Marle
    November 1, 2007 at 9:18 am

    Mice,

    I don’t mean to defend what happened to this girl, but there is something of a double standard amongst those on this board who are think the “mutilating” parent should be thrown in prison. Each year, hundreds of thousands of parents and doctors have parts of their of their son’s genitalia torn away without anesthesia (it’s called circumcision), and no one seriously suggests they should be locked up.

    I’m against circumcision as well, but there’s a difference between this and a normal circumcision. Normally parents don’t circumcise their teenage boys as punishment, and they don’t do it with the intention that sex will be painful for the boys after that, while the mother’s boyfriend continues to rape the boy. While I don’t think parents should circumcise their sons, there’s a huge difference between what this woman did and routine circumcision.

  84. Em
    November 1, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Yeah, William, I don’t think he’s troll either. He smells like a sleazy defense attorney who is used to being able to manipulate people. When he got frustrated at being expected to maintain an actual dialogue, his subtlety regulator broke down and he fell back on shaming insult mode.

  85. Em
    November 1, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Wow, it only took 77 comments for the circumcision ghost to arise. Mice, kindly stfu about the menz.

  86. Kim
    November 1, 2007 at 10:04 am

    I’m sick. Just plain sick.
    This is a very good reason why we should have “paid” juries. I am not trying to be funny here. But, do you know what kind of people usually serve on juries? People who don’t have jobs. People with no lives. People who stay home and watch lots of TV.
    One more good reason to stay out of that shit hole state Florida.

  87. Thomas, TSID
    November 1, 2007 at 10:14 am

    some fantasia where feminists are authoritarian punishment queens

    psst! Hey Zuzu! If you find that place, get an address for me.

  88. exholt
    November 1, 2007 at 11:04 am

    I’m not sure Bloix is a troll (though he’s rather insufferably pompous), but he is working very hard not to understand the point of the post, which was expressing outrage that not only did the mother get off scot-free for this, but that the jury foreman pooh-poohed the injury to the girl because she was “out of control” (read: sexually active).

    Zuzu,

    It is also possible Bloix is also one of those who unquestioningly puts far more stock in the parent’s word over the child’s….even when the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the child’s veracity. I’ve seen the “out of control” canard used by too many parents growing up and in reported child abuse cases as an excuse to crush all dissent and disobedience in their children. That much is quite clear in this case.

  89. alsojill
    November 1, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Yeah, I was wondering how long it would take for male circumcision to show up.

    Never mind that circumcision is not designed to make sex more painful for boys/men. Never mind that there has been a strong argument for voluntary circumcision in certain places (African countries) as a health measure (it slightly lowers the risk of contracting AIDS, apparently, b/c things can’t get caught under the foreskin). Last I checked, forcible genital piercing (*snort*–I totally typed “gentile” there) had no health benefit.

    Which is not to say that I am pro-circumcision. I tend to be opposed. But it’s neither malicious nor intended to prevent sex, so the comparison does. not. stand.

  90. exholt
    November 1, 2007 at 11:16 am

    This is a very good reason why we should have “paid” juries. I am not trying to be funny here. But, do you know what kind of people usually serve on juries? People who don’t have jobs. People with no lives. People who stay home and watch lots of TV.

    Kim,

    I agree and relate to your sentiments regarding this case.

    I must take exception, however, to your gross generalization of juries as being filled mostly with jobless TV addicted homebodies. Though this may vary depending on geographic location, that was far from an accurate characterization of the jury pools I’ve served with in Ohio, New England, and NYC. With the exception of the first when I served as a college student, the other times were served during times of gainful employment. Most of the jurors I served with were also gainfully employed in what some of the snobbish set would consider to be “real jobs”.

    Moreover, I have grave concerns about the potential pitfalls of having paid juries. Don’t know about you, but I feel that may open up more unintended cans of worms.

  91. Mnemosyne
    November 1, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Though this may vary depending on geographic location, that was far from an accurate characterization of the jury pools I’ve served with in Ohio, New England, and NYC. With the exception of the first when I served as a college student, the other times were served during times of gainful employment. Most of the jurors I served with were also gainfully employed in what some of the snobbish set would consider to be “real jobs”.

    Personally, I like the fact that jury pools at least try to draw from a broad cross-section of the city. The lawyers will do their best to cull the jury most favorable to their side from that pool, but it’s good to have that variety available.

    Heck, here in LA, I’ve seen strippers and loan sharks show up to do their jury service. And I say, good for them — I’d rather have an honest stripper deciding my case than a Ph.D. with a closed mind who only cares about getting the case over with.

  92. Marle
    November 1, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    While I too am leery about career juries (technically they already get a stipend, so it’s weird to be calling for “paid” juries”) and I think Kim’s exaggerating on the unemployment rate of jurors, the system does make it rather difficult for people “with lives” to be jurors. Employers don’t have to pay people during their jury time, and the stipend isn’t close to a living wage, so some people can’t afford to do it. There’s also no free childcare for jurors and they can’t take kids to court, so jury duty causes a lot of problems for stay at home parents. I definitely think the system need some changes, but think changing it to career jurors only is the wrong direction. It needs to be changed so that it’s easier for the average person to serve.

  93. November 1, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    As someone who stays at home and watches a lot of TV, I think I’m qualified to discuss jury selection. In Illinois, employer retaliation for an employee taking time off to serve jury duty is a felony offense punishable by mandatory jail time. Further, many corporations, if they do not give you a paid day off, will pay you for the day if you sign over your $17 dollar paycheck you received from the court. You will also be excused from jury duty if you are the primary caregiver of small children. The state doesn’t want to hear any excuses, so they try to remove the obstacles between you and the hard plastic chair in the federal building they want you to sit in all day until your name is called.

  94. kate
    November 1, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/oct/24/girl_pierced_private_area_testifies_first_day_moth/

    That’s an article that describes in detail the questioning of the girl and the approach of the defense attorney, the view of the judge and the prosecutor’s apparent fear that he couldn’t make a case that would fly before a jury.

  95. TCp
    November 2, 2007 at 12:44 am

    This is just fucked up.

  96. November 2, 2007 at 1:28 am

    But, do you know what kind of people usually serve on juries?

    Yes, I do. You clearly don’t, and probably consider yourself one of those people who is too clever and special to be bothered wasting your most precious time being on a jury.

  97. Marle
    November 2, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Flea, I can’t speak for everywhere, but I know at my job and most other companies around here will only pay you during jury duty if you take it as personal or vacation time. Of course they don’t fire you or reprimand you for it, but you either lose those days of pay or you cut short your limited vacation time. I’ve also heard stay at home moms complaining because they’ve gotten called and couldn’t get out of it. I guess Ohio is a little behind the curve.

  98. Amy
    November 2, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Permanent disfigurement…You know, I have yet to see even a well-healed and later voluntarily closed piercing that did not leave some kind of scar. I refuse to believe that a piercing given under protest and force that became infected healed right up and vanished, no harm no foul.

    And what about permanent psychological scarring?

    I wonder what somebody did to the mother that she ended up so disturbed.

  99. Linda
    November 2, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Yeah, I was wondering how long it would take for male circumcision to show up. Never mind that circumcision is not designed to make sex more painful for boys/men. Never mind that there has been a strong argument for voluntary circumcision in certain places (African countries) as a health measure (it slightly lowers the risk of contracting AIDS, apparently, b/c things can’t get caught under the foreskin). Last I checked, forcible genital piercing (*snort*–I totally typed “gentile” there) had no health benefit.

    The studies that show circumcision to help prevent HIV are highly controversial because the methodology was so questionable. So far, health benefits, even very slight, haven’t been *proven*. Even if there were health benefits, it would make about as much sense to justify removing a sexually functional part of the body in such a way as it would be to justify cutting off girls’ breasts in infancy to reduce risk of breast cancer.

    Which is not to say that I am pro-circumcision. I tend to be opposed. But it’s neither malicious nor intended to prevent sex, so the comparison does. not. stand.

    Right. Because if the mom wasn’t malicious and it wasn’t intended to prevent sex, and it was done more for, say, cultural reasons, it would be so totally okay.

  100. November 2, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    “I guess Ohio is a little behind the curve.”

    Possibly. I suspect it’s more a matter of reality not always being the same as theory.

    I work full time, but I don’t get paid for jury duty. Even though I work for the government. Because, like a whole lot of people, I work two part-time jobs instead of one full time one.

  101. Laura
    November 2, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    In every state, there is a program for “out of control” children. The court orders the child home at a certain time and/or gives other stipulations. If the orders are not followed, the kid gets in trouble with the court and can risk being sent to a juvenile detention center, in some cases. So it is curious to me that the jurors made their decision based on the fact that they felt nothing else could have been done about this girl. The courts are supposed to be there so that people DON’T take matters into their own hands. Here is an example where the courts failed twice on this matter. I’m disgusted.

  102. Juan Perez
    November 3, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    No doubt the piercing was a stupid thing to do.
    But was it worse than boys foreskin removal in boys which is widely practiced in USA? Piercings can be easily removed but circumcision is very difficult to revert. The problem with this mother is that wat she made is unusual .

  103. Ms.Feasance
    November 3, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Two things truly sadden me:
    1) In noting case law progressions about aggravated child abuse, there are a litany of cases where mothers who whipped their sons with leather belts were found guilty (and had their convictions upheld at appeal) of aggravated child abuse. (After Kama v. State, 507 So. 2d 154, in which a mother’s conviction for aggravated child abuse for whipping her son with a leather belt was upheld, the Florida legislature amended the law to specifically permit a higher level of corporal punishment.) Yet, in most places in the case law, the victims of aggravated child abuse whose abusers’ convictions were upheld were male.
    2) Why wasn’t this mother charged with some form of sexual abuse? According to Fla. Stat. (s) 39.01 (emphasis mine),

    (66) “Sexual abuse of a child” means one or more of the following acts:…
    (c ) Any intrusion by one person into the genitals or anal opening of another person, including the use of any object for this purpose, except that this does not include any act intended for a valid medical purpose. (d) The intentional touching of the genitals or intimate parts, including the breasts, genital area, groin, inner thighs, and buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of either the child or the perpetrator, except that this does not include: 1. Any act which may reasonably be construed to be a normal caregiver responsibility, any interaction with, or affection for a child; or 2. Any act intended for a valid medical purpose.

    So now, I suppose that we are to infer that this case indicates that genital mutilation serves a valid medical purpose; or that publicly humiliating your child for sleeping with your boyfriend can be “reasonably construed to be a normal caregiver responsibility.”

  104. Marge
    November 3, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Yes juan it is was worse then removing a babys foreskin. You can’t compare the two. They are in completely different catagories!

    The problem with the mother is that what she did is unusual? How about fucked up! What she did was fucked up! And no amount of debate is going to change that. She held down her teenage daughter and put a fucking needle through her labia to make it painfull for her to have sex. How can you even fucking compare that to circumcision!

  105. Marle
    November 5, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Right. Because if the mom wasn’t malicious and it wasn’t intended to prevent sex, and it was done more for, say, cultural reasons, it would be so totally okay.

    It was intended to make it painful for her to have sex, as a punishment for being raped by her mother’s boyfriend.

    Look, I’m against circumcision too. But what this mother did was so much worse and disturbing and traumatizing than routine circumcision. There really shouldn’t even be a comparison.

  106. J
    November 6, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    “Yes juan it is was worse then removing a babys foreskin. You can’t compare the two. They are in completely different catagories!”

    Personally I would say that excision of an erogenous zone is -worse-.

    “The problem with the mother is that what she did is unusual? How about fucked up! What she did was fucked up! And no amount of debate is going to change that. She held down her teenage daughter and put a fucking needle through her labia to make it painfull for her to have sex. How can you even fucking compare that to circumcision!”

    Because they both involve damage to erogenous zones.

    Indeed circumcision in secular terms was originally designed to deter masturbation. Not that dissimilar, really.

  107. Swoops
    November 6, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    this is messed up i swear. I hope the man is locked up. I think they should prosecute the jury for being inconsiderate crack smoking asswholes who must do the same kind of shit

  108. November 8, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Bottom line is a women done a bad wrong to her child over a man and both man and women should pay . This child has to live with the facts that happen to her and she should not have to at all.
    Im not a lawyer or doctor dammit man there is clear right and wrong here it is like black and white . In my oppion “woa to them to harm the little one of this world “

  109. Schmorgluck
    November 8, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    I think she’s been mostly batshit stupid, aggravated by a lack of consideration for her daughter.
    I don’t agree that she should be sentenced to many years of imprisonment. Thirty years would be, given all the facts exposed, clearly unbalanced, in my opinion.
    Still, some years would have been fair and, if I understand right, that’s what the prosecutor tried to achieve. But the judge refused, and left the jurors with a choice between acquitment and a largely exaggerated sentence. They chose the former, and I think I’d have too, by principle.
    The foreman’s explanation is completely scary, though. Totally missing the point, and totally putting the blame on the victim, which angers me more than I can express.

    On a side note, I have a question about a point in US’ penal procedure (or maybe Florida’s penal procedure in this case) I’ve failed to make clear in my head: is the prosecution able to file an appeal in such a case?

  110. Cate
    November 25, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Wow, this story is disgusting. I am always amazed at human beings, both for the beauty and the monstrosities we are capable of…

    Something else that I noticed, however…

    “…who acquitted this woman (probably a nice, Christian woman) for mutilating her daughter’s genitals…”

    There’s absolutely no need for that. I think it’s safe to say we have no idea what this woman’s beliefs are, and regardless of your personal prejudices, not all folks who call themselves Christians are crazy.

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