FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) increased by 35 percent in the US between 1990 and 2000. Anti-FGM activists state this number continues to increase as a result of insufficient action, despite Obama passing legislation making vacation cutting illegal, because of a lack of awareness, and a lack of up-to-date research and statistics.
150,000 to 200,000 are at risk of FGM without their consent in the US alone, with more than 140 million women and girls affected worldwide. In 2000, California, New York, Washington, Texas and New Jersey were among the states with the highest FGM statistics.
The process of FGM involves knives, razors and even sometimes blunt instruments. It is also done without the use of anaesthetics. There are four types: “The partial or total removal of the clitoris and the clitoral hood; the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the inner labia, with or without the removal of the outer labia; the removal of the external female genitalia and the sealing or narrowing of the vaginal opening using stitches or glue (this is called infibulation, and a small opening is left for urination and menstruation; when women are married, they undergo a second cutting as they’re reopened for sexual intercourse); and finally, any other procedures for nonmedical purposes such as piercing, scraping, and cauterizing.”
Girls and women who are forced to endure mutilation suffer from long-term health problems. They are prone to chronic infection, haemorrhage and severe pain when urinating, menstruating or having sex. It also means there can be complications at child birth, with an increased chance of newborns dying, and mothers from infection or haemorrhage.
Many also suffer from the psychological trauma. Fanta, 27, stated for months afterwards she had reoccurring flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia, which still sometimes return. She described how she would close her eyes and see the woman coming towards her with a knife. Victims also tend to suffer with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder throughout their life.
Jaha Duhereh, living in Atlanta and born in Gambia, was mutilated as a child. She stated: “I hear from girls every day that were born here in the US who have been through FMG… average American teenagers… some of them you went or go to school with.” She urged for further action, as she believes many women and girls remain at risk of being cut.
There has only ever been one person convicted in the US for FMG. He was an Ethiopian immigrant found guilty in 2006 of cutting his 2 year-old daughter with scissors. He was sentences to 10 years in prison. The girl’s mother claimed she did not know until she discovered the cut one year later. However, the man accused maintained that he had not, nor had he asked someone, to cut his daughter. His attorney implied, that it was in fact the mother’s family who had visited the US from South Africa.
According to Sanctuary for Families, FGM relates to cultural beliefs on gender, sexuality, marriage and family, rather than religion. It is associated with feminity and the transition to womanhood, for example, many believe it aids obedience and docility. It is also believed to purify and cleane girls of previous sins. Equality Now also disregards FMG’s link to religion, classing it as a cultural tradition subjugating women and controlling their bodies. In other words, they see it as a form of oppression.
Despite this, efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation are regularly destroyed, as practitioners claim it is a religious practise that women and girls are obliged to conform to. However FGM is a form of child abuse. It is a type of criminal injury where an innocent person suffers at the hands of another. If you have fallen victim to FMG, contact a solicitor like here at MLS in order to seek justice for the crimes of another. We understand that nothing can eradicate the trauma undergone, however the law is here in order to attempt to seek some form of compensation for victims of abuse.