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23.09.2002 Feature Article

The Great "Female Mutilation" Hoax

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By Michelle Malkin [email protected] BEING A feminist means never having to say you're sorry. Witness the Great Clitoridectomy Hoax - brought to you by the unapologetic estrogen-fueled brigade of Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts and Hillary Clinton. In 1997, a West African calling herself "Adelaide Abankwah" entered the United States illegally. She was a perfect poster child for the feminist cause. Too perfect. "Abankwah" landed on our shores from Ghana. She told immigration authorities in New York that she was the daughter of the dead "Queen Mother" of a Ghanaian tribe, the "Nkumssa," which allegedly practiced female genital mutilation. The young "princess" said she feared she would be subjected to a cutting ritual, known as a clitoridectomy, if the tribe discovered she had engaged in premarital sex. When the Immigration and Naturalization Service challenged "Abankwah's" story and detained her, women's groups, churches and Marie Claire magazine rallied. Steinem, Roberts, New York Democrats Charles Schumer and Carolyn Maloney, and first lady Hillary Clinton joined the campaign to "Free Adelaide" - and open the gates to every alien claiming fear of female genital mutilation. A lower federal court rejected "Abankwah's" asylum claim, saying her personal fear did not constitute persecution. But the 2nd Circuit Court reversed the ruling. At a triumphal press conference, Steinem lambasted "Abankwah's" doubters and praised her as a "wonderful woman who we should be grateful to have as a citizen." But investigators had gathered evidence that this royal was a royal joker. "Adelaide Abankwah" was actually Regina Norman Danson, a hotel worker who had stolen the real Abankwah's identity and cooked up her story to help her gain asylum. According to the evidence, Danson's mother was alive when Danson made her claim, she and her mom had never been members of the Nkumssa tribe, and there was no tradition of genital mutilation in the region where Danson lived in Ghana. Although the Washington Post exposed the hoax in 2000 and Danson admitted falsifying her identity, no effort was made to deport Danson or charge her with fraud - reportedly because of pressure from Hillary Clinton. The Danson case languished until two weeks ago, when the feds filed fraud charges against her days before the statute of limitations expired. Her lawyer, Kenneth Montgomery, told me that Danson will fight the charges and that she stands by her story. Yet Montgomery was not sure whether Danson's mother was dead or alive - and declined to say whether Danson was ever a member of the tribe. Montgomery argues that even if Danson wasn't a member of the razor-wielding Nkumssas, "it wouldn't matter." (Who cares about the facts?) Meanwhile, the feminists who championed Danson have disappeared. A spokesman for Hillary would only say that it would be "upsetting" if the fraud charges stand. According to the real Adelaide Abankwah's lawyer, I. Jay Fredman, whom I interviewed in my book, "Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores": "Danson ruined my client's life, embarrassed her family, and ruined the credibility of all bona fide asylum seekers. Everybody - Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Chuck Schumer - got sucked in. They saw a good story - it didn't matter whether it was true." Female truth mutilation is, of course, nothing new. The outrage is that we continue to allow our asylum policies to be exploited by liars, cheats, terrorists and political opportunists at the expense of the truly oppressed. Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is author of "Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores" (Regnery, 2002).

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