This Protector page is dedicated to
correspondence with those who have legal or moral obligation to protect
children. It asks them why they have not acted to protect children from
unnecessary and harmful surgeries while urging them to do so now.
15, 1998, email from Gladys Cairns to Jody McLaughlin.
October 19, 1998 letter to Gladys
Cairns, Director, Child Protection Services
Also see the Alliance
First Letter to ASAPT, 8/23/98.
ASAPT Response to 8/23/98 Letter.
Second Letter to
October 15, 1998
Email from Gladys Cairns to Jody McLaughlin:
Jody, as the Chair
of ASAPT, I can tell you that ASAPT will not be the carriers of
legislation or requesters (we have no legal authority to do so) of an
AG's opinion on circumcision. Now, that does not mean that I favor this
cultural related procedure but it does mean our mission is much
different from what you believe our mission should be. We appreciate
receiving information on the subject. But, please know that I am already
convinced that it is not medically necessary, that it is culturally or
And we have given
our members the information in the brochure developed by your group. And
just so you know where we are, we do not expect to cover the issue of
circumcision as an agenda item for our task force in the foreseeable
October 19, 1998
Gladys Cairns, Director,
Child Protection Services
Bismarck, North Dakota
Thank you for
your letter in response to the difficulty
organizations have in addressing the Male Genital Human Rights issues.
I am glad you
mentioned legislation. As Director of Child Protection Services (not as
the Chair of the Alliance for Sexual Abuse
and Prevention and Treatment Task Force) would you support (not
"carry") legislation that would prohibit non-indicated,
genital procedures (circumcision or the separation of synecial
connections of the labia minora or foreskin) on children? If such a bill
is proposed, would you consider providing testimony during the hearings?
You have stated that although non-therapeutic circumcision does not fit
the definition of child sexual abuse, if it is abuse, it is physical
abuse, which is within the responsibility of Child Protection Services.
I had not asked
you about requesting an opinion from the Attorney General's office, but
I think it is an excellent idea. Since "The Attorney General is The
Attorney for State Government And State Agencies" and State Law
prohibits the AG office from providing legal information to private
citizens, ND Human Services or Child Protection Services could (and I
hope will) request an opinion from the Attorney General to see if the
State Law protecting female minors should be interpreted to include
Declaration of Independence said "All men (we now assume this means
women also ) are created equal" prior to 1920 women could not vote
because women were obviously different from men, at least until the 19th
amendment to the Constitution was passed. Therefore, because of changes
in our perceptions, understandings and sensibilities, interpretations of
the law are sometimes necessary.
I'm sure you can
remember a time when it was no body's business what parents did to their
children. Children were considered property of their parents, and all
were loath to interfere. The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals existed long before there were any such organizations
advocating for children.
that long ago that rape was considered a crime of passion, not a crime
of violence. Fathers (and perhaps even mothers) held the belief that it
was their responsibility to "teach their children about sex."
This particular kind of 'teaching' is now called incest and is
prohibited, both culturally and legally.
Now that women can
vote, and rape and incest are considered crimes, we have another issue
we need to address; the Genital Integrity of our children, particularly
when it is compromised by well meaning, but ill informed parents or
caregivers, some of whom, unfortunately, may still consider children
It is my
understanding that it is unconstitutional to deny any individual their
personal safety, including children; to deny equal protection regardless
of age, gender or race; or discrimination based on sex. According to:
Amendment--personal security--"The right of
people to be secure in their persons...against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated...but upon probable cause, supported by
Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be
searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The 14th Amendment
--Provides for equal protection
regardless of age, gender or race-- "No State shall make or enforce
any law which...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
protection of the laws.
The 19th Amendment
--Prohibits sex discrimination--
The right of citizens of the United States (to vote) shall not be denied
or abridged...by any State on account of sex.
Just to refresh
your memory, you perhaps have not read this since you testified on
behalf of the following bill which passed into law--
AN ACT to prohibit
female genital mutilation; and to provide a penalty.
BE IT ENACTED BY
THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF NORTH DAKOTA: Section 1. Surgical
alternation of the genitals of females minors - Penalty
1. Except as
provided in subsection 2, any person who knowingly separates or
surgically alters normal, healthy functioning genital tissue of a female
minor is guilty of a class C felony.
2. A surgical
operation is not a violation of this section if a licensed medical
practitioner performs the operation to correct an anatomical abnormality
or to remove diseased tissue that is an immediate threat to the health
of the minor. In applying this subsection, any belief that the operation
is required as a matter of custom, ritual, or standard of practice may
not be taken into consideration.
Although this law
is by definition, sexist, it may sound fair to some, because, after all,
boys are different from girls. But boys grow up into men and girls into
women, and the law requires they be treated equally. We know if children
are not safe and well cared for when they are small, this may have a
sometimes negative effect on their entire lives. Women as well as men
have suffered terribly because of the ways in which they were treated.
Sometimes this suffering is passed on to the next generation because
"It was all I knew." It is with this in mind I ask you, as the
Director, of Child Protection Services, to
1. Request the
Attorney General's opinion on this, And 2. Schedule a meeting of all
interested parties: where the fears and expectations, causes and
concerns, problems and pit falls, education and practice can be
addressed by all parties involved with this issue, in an environment of
concern for the safety and well being of children.
I would be proud
to have North Dakota lead the nation on this critical issue as it did
with addressing FGM. Because the time when this will end is coming. I
would be pleased if our state could set the new standard. And as you
know, because of the small and intimate nature of our state, things can
happen here that simply cannot take place in places like California or
If you have any
other ideas or information on the most effective way to address this
issue at the local or state level, I would be pleased if you would share
them with me.
PO Box 209
Minot, ND 58702-0209