16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence just ended. Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.” Let’s see what you know about the important and underreported problem of Female Genital Mutilation. Can you spot which of the following statements is a lie?
A. Female Genital Mutilation has no health benefits.
B. Female Genital Mutilation is only a problem in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia—women in America aren’t at risk of FGM.
C. There are resources available in the United States for those facing the threat of FGM.
Let’s take these statements one at a time:
A. TRUTH! The World Health Organization defines female genital mutilation as the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia for nonmedical reasons, which they detail has no health benefits, and in fact, results in lasting physical injury and can even result in the death of the girls and women who undergo the procedure.
B. LIE! While FGM is most common in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia—where a jaw-dropping 200 million girls and women have undergone the procedure—young women around the globe are at risk. In fact, according to 2012 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 513,000 women and girls in the U.S. have experienced or are at risk of mutilation. In 2017, three medical practitioners in Michigan faced trial for performing FGM on girls living in America. There are still 10 states and the District of Columbia that lack laws against FGM.
C. TRUTH! The Ayaan Hirsi Ali (AHA) Foundation has launched the first-ever United States helpline for women and girls facing the horror of female genital mutilation. To speak anonymously with a crisis counselor for free at any hour of the day, please text 741-741.
The practice of female genital mutilation is still being done quietly across the United States. There has been progress made in recent years, as more and more states act to restrict or outlaw this practice. But there are still ten states, along with our nation’s capital, that offer no protection to women and girls. This is unacceptable.