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article imagePolice and Health Unit: No charges in labia reduction surgery Special

By Bob Gordon     Apr 8, 2010 in Crime
Guelph - On Wednesday, April 7 the Guelph Police Services announced that no charges will be laid in the genital surgery case that came to light three weeks ago.
On March 2, 2010 packages containing a DVD of a woman performing labiaplasty (also known as labia reduction surgery) were delivered to the Wellington County Public Health Unit, the Guelph Police Service and the Guelph Mercury. On March 19, the Guelph Mercury published a story on the subject and announced that police were investigating the case with charges possibly pending under the Regulated Health Professionals Act.
Yesterday, the police announced that no charges would be laid following their investigation. According to Senior Constable Kevin King, “We identified the people [in the DVD]. We interviewed them. We consulted. We gathered. And, that’s the end of it.”
Also, the Wellington County Public Health Unit's Janice Walters, manager of infectious services, said that the health unit would not be continuing their investigation: "We don’t have a complainant. If someone complained, or if the woman developed an infection post-procedure, then we’d definitely investigate. Without a complainant though, it’s very difficult."
According to the report in the Guelph Mercury, the package named a local tattoo parlor on Macdonnell Street, Stigmata Body Art despite the fact that Stigmata Body Art has won numerous local awards including #1 Place to get Tattooed (2008, 2009), #1 Place to get Pierced! (2008, 2009) & Best Local Tattoo Artist (2009) in the Echo Reader's Choice Awards.
I spoke to Stigmata owner, operator and head piercer Joan Larsen earlier this afternoon. She said that the negative media reports had "not had much impact on business." She also lamented the negative feelings that characterize the relationship between tattoo shops in Guelph, "they don't rely on how good they are; they insult and gossip about other shops" to increase their business. She unfavorably compared this situation with the industry in Toronto were she worked formerly.
Larsen also raised two other issues that she believes are fundamental problems for the body art industry in Canada. She believes there "should be stricter regulations" of the profession to minimize the possibility of sensational media coverage and reduce the stigma that surrounds the profession although she concedes that there may "always be a stigma attached" to tattoos and piercings despite the fact that her clientèle includes professionals and families.
Additionally, she feels that the media frenzy around labia reduction is a product of ignorance. She points out that labia reduction and clitorectomy, the type of genital mutilation performed in some countries, bear no relationship socially, physically or medically. Secondly, she notes that circumcision of a male baby boy is regularly performed, and in the case of a bris (Jewish ritual circumcision), not in a hospital setting, with little public outcry. She sees this as "a human rights issue." An example of gender bias and a violation of the fundamental protection provided against gender discrimination in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Digital Journalist Betty Kowall recently had numerous piercing done at a local body art shop, "I am happy that this has been investigated and no local tattoo parlors are being charged. The thought of it being done by unqualified persons is extremely disturbing."
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