After my initial research and the class discussion for my presentation last week, I wanted to delve further into the prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the United States. The collective shock of our class that the practice exists in the United States hugely echoed my own surprise. Looking into statistics of FGM brought me to the website of Equality Now, an international human rights organization “dedicated to action for the civil, political, economic, and social rights of girls and women.” Their report on FGM was further eye opening for me on this subject.
In 1997, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated that over 168,000 girls and women living in the U.S. have either been, or are at risk of being, subjected to FGM. However, there is little information known on how many of these procedures have actually occurred on American soil. In fact, even the HHS estimate is from speculations based on populations from FGM affected communities in the U.S. There have only been a couple of reported cases of FGM in Georgia, one in 2003 and another in 2010. The cutting can happen when girls are on vacation in their parents’ countries of origin or when circumcisers are brought into the country to cut girls, but some reports also indicate that a few doctors may be performing FGM on girls in hospitals in the U.S. Unfortunately, the silence surrounding the issue makes it extremely difficult for girls and women who oppose the practice within communities to speak out openly against it.
The video, which unfortunately did not work in class, was a reflection of an effort to create an awareness campaign on FGM in the U.S. The hope of such campaigns is that increased awareness and understanding will lead to greater openness on the discourse of FGM, and as a result could lead to better prevention and education regarding the practice. The video is included in the links below if anyone is still interested in watching it!