Between 1990 and 2000 the number of girls and women in the United States at risk of the procedure increased by 35 percent.
That number alone tells us something about the scale of immigration involved. What was once a European immigrant problem is now becoming an American immigrant problem.
The ancient, brutal practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), once considered primarily a problem of the developing world, is a growing threat to girls and women in the United States, according to a new report.
The New York City-based non-profit organisation, which specialises in gender-based violence, said up to 200,000 girls and women in the United States are at risk of FGM and that the number is growing.
“People in the United States think that FGM only happens to people outside of the United States, but in all actuality, people here all over the country have been through FGM,” said Jaha, 23, formerly from Gambia and now a survivor and advocate against FGM.
“Kids that were born in this country are taken back home every summer and undergo this procedure,” she was quoted as saying in the report.
The study cited analysis of data from the 2000 census that found between 1990 and 2000 the number of girls and women in the United States at risk of the procedure – which involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia – increased by 35 percent.
Most prevalent in immigrant African and Middle Eastern communities, FGM generally originates in the belief by some cultures that it preserves a girl’s virginity before marriage and discourages her from promiscuity after she is wed. In many communities, a girl is deemed unfit for marriage if she has not undergone FGM.
As Middle Eastern and African immigration to the United States rises, we end up struggling with barbaric practices that will persist regardless of any attempts to regulate them, just as they have in Europe.