Thursday, November 02, 2006

"Ethiopian Man Convicted of Female Circumcision"... Uhh...?

There are probably a hundred and one reasons why one should not be surfing the web when one is on a conference call with one’s particularly onerous client, but add to that list the likelihood of randomly screaming out “holy shit!” when one reads on the front page of the BBC News webpage that an Ethiopian man in Atlanta has been convicted of circumcising his daughter.

I’ve spent a few hours reading about this case and … folks, as much as I am a feminist-in-stilettos, there is a lot wrong with this case, not that you would know it by reading a totally hysterical article that is dependably posted on CNN. The man, Ato Kahlid Adem, was going through an exceptionally nasty divorce and custody case from a South African woman who only noticed that her daughter was circumcised after the separation? And the vivid details with which the seven-year-old girl remembers what happened when she was two unsettles me.

I got into one of the biggest fights of my life with a white, liberal, “I am here to save Africa” woman about FMG. She wanted to “understand” the phenomenon, while I eventually ended up suggesting she have her clitoris hacked off to get the full scope of the matter. There is nothing to “understand” about FMG. It is brutal. It is inhumane and there is absolutely no fucking excuse for it.

But I don’t think this guy did it to his daughter. And if he did not and his ex-wife has leveled this false charge against him, it not only takes immigrant women’s plight back to the Stone Age, it devalues the atrocity of FMG.

There are too many inconsistencies about testimonies from the plaintiff and witnesses, and as Africans, as Ethiopians we need to get the bottom of this. Some of the reports I’ve read so far don’t even mention timelines and the divorce/custody petition, and once again we are letting other people define us. It is up to us to set the record straight, and if my intuition is wrong and Ato Kahlid did it, I will be contrite to the point of humiliation. But something does not add up. And if the glove don’t fit…

I am not sure if the community has rallied behind Ato Kahlid and to what extent Ethiopians in Atlanta are aware of the case--- there appears to be ample coverage of it by the local press. I hope Ethiopian lawyers in Georgia will look at this case and inform us what happened.

While doing a little research, I was delighted to run into two new Ethiopian bloggettes, which has made me very, very happy. (Dina at Coffeechilisun has been very quiet, as has Fiqirte at The Concoction.)

Zenobia at Ewnet Ethiopia has an insightful post. She declares “Kahlid Adem is Innocent.”

Eleni Agiz at Ethiopia Encyclopedia, a prolific writer and thinker (and a young’un) also covers this story in her post “Ethiopian man circumcises two year old daughter?”

I am drowning in work and life (yes, I am one of those mothers who has to work) but I hope we can all rally to find out the truth.

Eventually I will update the links on the left (I know you Explorer users can’t see the links, but why the hell are you using Explorer?).

But I welcome my sisters to the ET Blogospere.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


As a woman, nay, a feminist, I am absolutely and completely against female genital mutilation. But I agree with you that this case stinks to high heaven. I wonder what kind of legal representation he had. A mother doesn't know her daughter was circumcised for a year? How did she find out after a whole year? How does a two year old remember and recount something that happened so long ago in such detail? I am sure Mr. Khalid will appeal. I Hope he does.

11:39 AM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous B said...

yeah...the story just didn't add up...apparently the daughter was "circumsized" at the age of two, and her mother didn't notice until she was three...I mean, was this girl not potty trained? even if the mother were not the primary caretaker, did she not change one diaper?

they used the girl's testimony from a memory when she was two? the hippocampus doesn't develop until 3-4

ludacris, this is.

if there is ever a way we can help push for this to be re-evaulated, let us know

11:43 AM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous Maeza said...


You have NO IDEA how fucked up this case is. I am a volunteer at an African immigrants women's NGO here in Altanta. Kahlid slipped through the cracks. He was totally railroaded, and once people know the nitty gritty it will sadly totally put all the work we've done to nil. It breaks my heart. I am fielding calls from reporters who have no idea about the case and write about it in sound bites. Do I scream? Do I cry?

Anyway, thanks for the post and for the other links.


11:46 AM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous mortified dire dawan said...

boy, do i feel like a class A jackass. I just finished mass emailing the story from cnn. on second reading, there isn't even an attempt at balance. if i didn't read you i would never have even questioned the veracity. i will alsi research it more.

I am embarassed.

12:02 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous kezira said...

biggest fight i've had about fmg was with an ethiopian man who shortly after became my ex. you would not believe how many educated, 'normal', progressive et men living in the western hemisphere try to make *you* "understand" the "cultural context" of fmg.

i'll touch base with my atl contacts.

12:47 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does understanding anything within the context in which it happens mean supporting it? I don't think so...It is only by understanding context, that one can counter such practices. Otherwise'ema you are back to the "why do they hate us?" argument.

Thanks for the article and links ETW, I think this story is just ludicrous.

2:21 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous molqaqa said...

if i may irgo zinb my way into this conversation:

kezira, you are not kidding! here is something v. telling from a comment on mesqel square on this subject. someone called "dagmawi" says:

Genital...relating to external sexual organs or to reproduction
Mutilation...disfigurement, defacement, damage, marring, injury, maiming

That is how the MS Word defines these two words. By extension genital mutilation –means disfigurement or injury to external sex organs. Under this interpretation, male circumcision or removing of the foreskin from a penis qualifies as genital mutilation.

Andrew, now consider your dad ending in the prison of some alien land because he cut your foreskin when you were a kid. [what!] That would be an outrage. Right? Well, it all depends whose cultural perspective you stand on, doesn’t it?

Cultural superiority anyone?


anonymous, would youlike to see slavery or colonialism in a 'cultural contex' as well? sometimes when we contextualize the uncontextualizable we end up like the dagmawi feller. in what cultural context should we see FMG? keeping women pure?

2:55 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I heard this the first time, I knew for sure this man didnt do it but I was also afraid this guy would be found guilty knowing that he is muslim and also a man. The mother who happend to be South African and also a nurse didnt find out after two years. It is mind boggling a mother who is a nurse didnt know about it and the jury took the entire story and convicted this poor man.
most importantly, the practice is perform by women not by men. The man needs to appeal again and I am sure he will win. The women calculate and performed on her child the win the custody.

3:30 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

Amazing. I paid almost no attention to this story. I found it a bit odd, but figured they must have a confession or something as strong for them to prove it. But you are saying he's been convicted based on his daughter's memories as a two-year old. Hmmm.

I remember that there was a raging debate a few years ago about recovered memory (?). I thought that was no longer sufficient to convict, or something like that.

Anyway, seems highly unlikely he did this unless he went off his rocker.

4:11 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous l-m-k said...

hopefully it is not Dagmawi from env fame... right?

most important: kezira is a chick??? dammit.

4:13 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Here is a simple question for you…Do you think the best way to counter FGM in rural Ethiopia is by educating the people or by imprisoning anyone who does it? If you believe that educating the population that practices it is the way to go, you are implicitly acknowledging there is a context that needs to be deconstructed.

I personally don’t think there are “savages” that don’t care for their children and would mutilate them just for the sake of it. But without context, that is the only explanation left. That is all what I meant.

BTW -- Yes, I understand the economic context in which colonialism and slavery occurred. That doesn't mean I defend either, or that I am not outraged by either.

4:33 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous dube said...

yes, kezira a woman!? I'm more confused than when I found out about that filwiha fella.

Unless this Kezira character is gay or something.

4:40 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous Tobian said...


Had emails going back and forth with a friend with regards to this. We concluded this sounded too fishy.

I realize this is a little off, but do men circumcise girls? I thought it was a traditional no-no. If a community is conservative enough to perform FGM, then I can't imagine a man being the one to do it. Doesn't it kind of 'void' the 'significance'?

4:51 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous molqaqa said...


so if we only educated (instead of fought and punished) slave owners and colonialist they would have abandoned their atrocious behavior?

also, i don't buy the argument that if i accept education i accept context. a little random, yes? for the record i do believe in education, outlawing AND punishing.

5:04 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous kezira said...

yes, a woman- which i thought would excite dube a little more. but.. lacklusterinet suggests to me..a little gay himslef? maybe just on weekends?

6:04 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous dube said...

First glow-in-the-dark rubbers, now Kezira is a sassy sarcastic true blue woman.

It's like Christmas morning.

I'mma have to hug me a weyane.

6:30 PM, November 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What hear and read is not always true. The man is convicted in the wealthiest & greatest democracy, and leader of the world.

Freeing from emotion, the accuser or the accused might be the culprit.

Is it about the pain of the little girl or savagery of the father / the mother? Four cry of media, what is the motive?

We are the laughing stock at both ends.

5:40 AM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If what we hear and read is not always true. The man is convicted in the wealthiest & greatest democracy, and leader of the world.

Freeing from emotion, the accuser or the accused might be the culprit.

Is it about the pain of the little girl or savagery of the father / the mother? Foul cry of media, what is the motive?

Are we the laughing stock at both ends?

12:07 PM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous getachew. tameru said...

we wold seen at this time .so meny critical, sutuetion . about
for ethiopian , gov. and ethio, peoples . how to can live and ,go
in the fetuer , this is eisy
we like talke true , for this our hom land poletical sutetion, real
ato meless he is not prezenta, all ethiopian .people .because . who was talke so ment and many word .
promeiss . for this .peoples after.bigen . mange ,this .ethiopian .peopes .he talke draphet . a week every esx months . new sescrption. for that herself a dream and plan .who need ,ecsepet. damege . anly .that two , traips ,amahra.
and oromo. athers
he plive . by estand .emotional. parshality. laivretion. he need descever, new and secrite .police espacly for tgray this .is clier ,we nose .who selewlly .become to kig of kig .
so all .6 million .ecsepte. tgray, this kind . netion. need of chenge ather new things .ethiopia need ,edcated. and free of the.parshality.atend .looketion. and beuled by economy socal. ploltical affers , how ever he is not need give chance for they. are entlctionwall

1:03 PM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

Ahhh, Getish! Really, I couldn't have said it better. Anonymous before you could use a little help in editing. Esti benatih, help argew! Would you do that, Getachew Tameru?

1:59 PM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous Tazabi said...

Getcho! You snatched it from the tip of my tongue!

Thanks for the wonderful article. I have to admit I was proactively avoiding the news about this on the media. We hear so many not so great things about our beloved country and people these days, I thought I will pass this one. Getting back to the issue, I think Kahlid was railroaded by a vengeful spouse in collusion with a culturally biased and ignorant jury. For one thing, not every one could do circumcision even in Ethiopia, female or otherwise. This is not a skill set that comes packaged with parenthood. You have to be a ‘wegesha’ of sorts to do this sort of operation, otherwise you won’t even know what to cut or even where to start for that matter.

One question for the lawyers though, is one eligible for invalid parking after undergoing such an operation?

4:32 PM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous maleda said...

imma. gonna. start. punctuating. like. getty.

i. like. it.
i. like. it. lots.

5:00 PM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

let me see if I can get a little conversation going here about what appears to be a thinly veiled support for this procedure on your part. Here’s what you wrote: “ Khalid was railroaded by a culturally biased jury.” Now, what am I to read into that, tazabi? You did not render an opinion on whether or not you thought the man was guilty as charged. You, however, implied that he might have gone free if the jury were not culturally biased. Therefore, isn’t it fair to conclude that your sympathies for Khalid do not stem from your conviction that he didn’t do it, but from your belief that he was treated unfairly by an “ignorant jury” that would not see the case in its proper cultural context?

I also noted you stayed clear of the term FGM and referred to this thing as “circumcision.” Question to you: Are you, by chance, making a distinction between the comparatively less egregious “circumcision” as in the cutting of the tip of the clitoris, and the more gruesome FMG as in the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia by way of making light of the matter? Was that deliberate?

As for your question regarding “invalid parking,” why are you asking the lawyers? Shouldn’t YOU know?

5:36 PM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daaaag, non-anon!

7:13 PM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous kezira said...

ahhhhh, do non-anonymous and dube share the same pharmacist?

gettisha, tell them to.hug.a.weyane.

8:12 PM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the welcome sis and also for linking my story and my blog.

Am a fan of Weichegud! by the way.

9:42 PM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...
dube and I do not share the same pharmacist. if what you said about him in your earlier comment is true, he must get his pills from some place that treats gender-identity-crisis.

10:48 PM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous ye filwiha lij said...

heard about this case for the first time when a couple of weeks ago the ferenjis at work started asking "...did you see channel....last night? they were showing an Ethiopian who 'mutilated' his daughter... up in Gwinnett county? do you know him?..." and i would reply..." nitwit, weasle why don't you just STFU mofo???.." well, I actually didn't say that but I wanted to... the more I dug and learned about the case, the more I said what maeza said on top ...

not anonymous -- I don't know if I'm making it what I want it to be, but what tazabi may be saying is... a prosecutor determined to make a name out of the case as it's been widely covered since at least 2004 as a "rare case in FGM" or even as the "first FGM case in...." and a black, immigrant defendant ohhh who's a Muslim.... looks like a slam dunk already...

kezira -- are you saying dube, with all his might, is a member of the New Life Church and he confesses to Ted Haggard on Sundays? you're bad...

12:23 AM, November 04, 2006  
Anonymous l-m-k said...

i don't think notiye anonymousiye takes pills. but someone's lethal dose of damakasse/fayto/tenna adam is obviously running low. see you at weizero aregu's, not anon.

7:15 AM, November 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LMK wrote:
"..lethal dose of damakasse/fayto/tenna adam..."

Speaking of DAMAKASSE, FAYTO & TENNA ADAM, there will be presentation and book signing by Dr. F. Fulas (RPh, PhD) about research conducted on Ethiopian medicinal herbs & spice plants @ Howard University Medical Towers auditrium on November 18th 2006 from 4pm. Those of you from DC Metropolitan area, do not miss this chance of learning about the interaction of the ABISH or TIKUR AZMUD you found in your ABESHA bread/Hambasha and the modern drugs you take for cold, fever etc.. Local stores would bring TELBA, BESO BILA, ABISH etc..for sale and you would be equipped with the latest scientific knowledge on how & when to use them.

12:32 PM, November 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It makes me sad that a young man being locked in prison for something he didnt do. Can we do petition for him and get the facts out?

8:39 PM, November 05, 2006  
Anonymous zeke said...

Is there any validity to the theory bellow?

Low IQs are Africa's curse, says lecturer

Researcher accused of promoting racist stereotype wins backing from LSE

Denis Campbell
Sunday November 5, 2006
The Observer

The London School of Economics is embroiled in a row over academic freedom after one of its lecturers published a paper alleging that African states were poor and suffered chronic ill-health because their populations were less intelligent than people in richer countries.

Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist, is now accused of reviving the politics of eugenics by publishing the research which concludes that low IQ levels, rather than poverty and disease, are the reason why life expectancy is low and infant mortality high. His paper, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, compares IQ scores with indicators of ill health in 126 countries and claims that nations at the top of the ill health league also have the lowest intelligence ratings.

Paul Collins, a spokesman for War On Want, the international development charity, said the research 'runs the risk of resurrecting the racist stereotype that Africans are responsible for their own plight, and may reinforce prejudices that Africans are less intelligent'.

Collins added: 'The notion that people in poor countries have inferior intelligence has been disproved by much research in the past. This is another example, which other academics will shoot down.'Philippa Atkinson, who chairs the LSE student union's 85-strong Africa Forum and teaches in the school's Department of Government, said the paper 'reflects the now discredited theories of eugenics, which should have been left behind'.

'Eugenics was a very influential discourse for centuries,' she said. 'It's the discourse that colonialism and racism in America until the Sixties were based on, and was part of the basis of apartheid too. Nobody could prove that there are racial or national differences in IQ. It's very, very controversial to say that national IQ levels are low in Africa, and completely unproven. It's a surprise that the odd person would try to bring it back,' she said.

However, she said the research contained some interesting ideas and merited serious consideration, and stressed that academics such as Kanazawa should not be deterred from exploring controversial subjects.

The reaction to Kanazawa's paper will reopen the simmering debate about whether academics are entitled to express opinions that many people may find offensive.

The Observer revealed last March that Frank Ellis, a lecturer in Russian and Slavonic studies at Leeds University, supported the Bell Curve theory, which holds that black people are less intelligent than whites. He also believed that women did not have the same intellectual capacity as men and backed the 'humane' repatriation of ethnic minorities. Initially, the university backed Ellis, despite protests by students and teaching staff, but he took early retirement in July.

Kanazawa declined to comment on either War on Want or Atkinson's allegations about reviving eugenics because, he said, other academics had come up with the national IQ scores that underpinned his analysis of 126 countries. In the paper he cites Ethiopia's national IQ of 63, the world's lowest, and the fact that men and women are only expected to live until their mid-40s as an example of his finding that intelligence is the main determinant of someone's health.

Having examined the effects of economic development and income inequality on health, he was 'surprised' to find that IQ had a much more important impact, he said. 'Poverty, lack of sanitation, clean water, education and healthcare do not increase health and longevity, and nor does economic development.'

The LSE declined to offer any opinion on Kanazawa's conclusions but defended his right to publish controversial research. A spokeswoman said: 'This is academic research by Dr Kanazawa based on empirical data and published in a peer-reviewed journal. People may agree or disagree with his findings and are at liberty to voice their opinions to him. The school does not take any institutional view on the work of individual academics.'

Kate Raworth, a senior researcher with Oxfam, said it was 'ridiculous' for Kanazawa to blame ill health on low IQ and 'very irresponsible' to reach such conclusions using questionable and 'fragile' international data on national IQ levels.

Rumit Shah, chairman of the LSE student union's 52-member Kenyan Society, said lack of education was probably one reason why many Kenyans die young. Aids, tuberculosis and malaria were key factors too.

Kanazawa's article was a 'misrepresentation' of the true causes of ill health in Kenya, added Shah. 'It portrays a bad picture of Kenya, because not everyone in Kenya has an IQ of 72. If there was more education, Kenyans would be wiser about their health.'

1:11 PM, November 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has any one of you taken an IQ test? If you are mathematically trained, all other things equal, you will do better than your friends. It has nothing to do with how intelligent you are, just how well you are trained. If the test focused on which seed works with which soil best, or how one uses the Ox to farm, then clearly the person who wrote the paper would come out as a retard. The point is that the test itself is formulated around an artificial definition of intelligence.

Not anon,

It could be that a culturally unaware jury would find it easier to believe that only a man could do this. Even the folks at ethiopundit seem to think that in their last post. Their call for modern societies was to counteract FGM by exercising mot be sikilat (build gallows?). So much for modernity...

Coming back to the original commentator (tazabi), I felt his sentiments about culture were more of defense for the practice than anything else. The last paragraph where he asks if this qualifies for a disability parking just goes to prove that he is dibin yale denkoro.

3:07 PM, November 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...I will update the links on the left (I know you Explorer users can’t see the links, but why the hell are you using Explorer?"

You have no fucking right to tell us which browser we have to use. You are trying to put the blame on us for your lack of IT skills. Get some help you arrogant idiot.

9:36 AM, November 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL on the hacking of the clitoris part :))

3:27 PM, November 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm about to break my own "don't go there" rule and post on a blog. i was all into the possibility that Ato Khalid was innocent, so i read both this blog (and grrreat comments) and the linked post by Zenobia. but my brain hit serious korokonch when i read the following comment by Zenobia: "The mother is from South Africa-a country that has had high profile cases of young men who died due to initiation rituals that included cirucumcision. How much does it take for a bitter and vindictive South African woman to take the leap to circumcise her own daughter herself (given her cultural background includes harmful practices) if it helps her to gain sole custody of her daughter?"

now, see, Zenobia's post about Ato Khalid was all about how, as an education man who came into adulthood in an urban and then developed context, he was unlikely to do this heinous thing to his child. so how exactly can we explain, or better yet, how can Zenobia explain, how his admittedly fishy-sounding wife does not deserve the same benefit of the doubt? cuz God knows if we have to use the innocence-test of whether your country has a "cultural background [that] includes harmful practices", we Ethiopians are toast.

i ain't into FGM and want whoever did this to that poor kid to be punished, and severely. i do, however, hope we can avoid using different measures of justice and fairness depending on whether someone is an Ethiopian, or whether we believe one side, or whether someone got to us with the first bit of "evidence", etc.

'sall i'm sayin'

as you were.

6:50 AM, November 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been bothered by this news since it came out, and I was wondering if there are people who like me believed to be this more of an implication of an innocent man by a mean hearted woman. I am a woman and one who believed in the equality of woman. I live in Canada and was hoping that Ethiopians in Atlanta will back this guy and help him to clear his name and help him gain his freedom. I would really like to know if there has been any follow up and any additional news on his status.


2:05 AM, December 15, 2006  
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It's the fault of the parents ... like a potato or Symptom Possible one agrees on the breast that make you maul the hell of a woman ... I am completely against this ...

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