On Thursday, a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than half a million women and girls in the United States live at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM), a threefold increase from the last CDC count in 1990 due to a rise in immigrants from countries where FGM is practiced. The risk for U.S. girls younger than 18 increased fourfold. The number of U.S. women and girls who have undergone FGM is unknown, due to lack of reliable data. FGM, a practice which involves removal of women’s external genitalia, has been illegal for 20 years in the United States but remains traditional in many African countries, South Asia, and the Middle East. Some immigrants send their daughters back to their home countries in what is known as “vacation cutting,” also illegal under U.S. law.
“This shows it’s not just something that happens ‘over there’ but it’s something that happens in this country,” says Shelby Quast, Americas director for Equality Now, a group that works to end the practice of FGM. Quast hopes the study boost public awareness, since many health-care workers and teachers are unaware of the law and should be trained to deal with survivors or girls a risk.
Read the full story at Reuters.