October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Sadly, there is one type of violence that many don’t recognize as a real threat to women and girls: Female genital mutilation.
FGM is defined by the World Health Organization as the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia for non-medical reasons. There are no health benefits to FGM.
It has been linked to serious medical complications, including infertility, severe bleeding, and death.
More than 100 million women worldwide have undergone this procedure–and we need to work to stop this human rights atrocity.
Many would be surprised to learn that FGM is a problem in the United States, but it is. According to the CDC, an estimated 513,000 women and girls in the United States have experienced or are at risk of FGM. This number about doubled between 2000 and 2014.
In 2018, a judge dismissed a court case in Michigan, in which a doctor was credibly accused of performing FGM on at least nine underage girls.
We cannot ignore this growing threat.
Senator Marsha Blackburn recently introduced the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2019. The legislation would prevent FGM and ensure prosecution of those who perpetuate this practice.
There are 35 states that have adequate FGM protection laws, but 15 states currently offer no protection.
Currently, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) doesn’t include any federal penalties for FGM or funding to prevent this practice.
Congress should reauthorize a stronger and better VAWA by enhancing penalties for FGM and allocating funding to combat the practice. FGM is violence against women at its worst. We must protect young girls from this horrific act and put an end to FGM in the U.S. once and for all. V
Visit iwf.org/FGM-in-VAWA to join thousands of women who have signed IWF’s national petition urging Congress to include FGM in VAWA.