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Tags: Female Genital Mutilation | FGM | victims | illegal

Study: 2,000 Treated for Female Genital Mutilation in UK

By    |   Monday, 20 October 2014 02:35 PM EDT

A shocking study in England has revealed that the British National Health Service has treated nearly 2,000 women in the past six months who are victims of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The process, which involves surgical removal of part or all of the external female genitalia and can cause serious medical problems, has been illegal in the United States since 1996 and in the U.K. since 1985, but, activists report, it still goes on in both places, according to The Daily Beast.

It remains common in 28 African countries, where African immigrants to the U.S. and U.K. take "FGM holidays" to take their daughters back home for the procedure, although this is also illegal in the U.K., where FGM can carry a prison sentence of up to 14 years and a large fine.

The World Health Organization states that the practice, often referred to as "female circumcision," happens because those who practice it believe it lowers female sex drive, protects virginity, and improves suitability for marriage.

While there are no specific numbers of young girls who have been forced into the brutal procedure, in a letter in May to Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State John Kerry, and a host of other government officials, Reps. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., and Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, wrote, "It is estimated that 125 million girls and women around the world have undergone genital mutilation and that 30 million more are at risk, including girls here in the U.S."

"By one estimate, nearly 70,000 women and girls in the U.S. are in danger of being subjected to FGM."

Former Rep. Mary Bono, who was involved in the issue while in Congress, told the Daily Beast that the new numbers from the U.K. are "disturbing on many levels" and added, "Two thousand women may have been seen by medical professionals, but that doesn’t account for the many others who have suffered without any treatment. Unfortunately, the issue is almost completely ignored in the U.S., even though it is occurring here as well."

"FGM holidays" have been banned in the U.S. since 2012 and carry a five-year prison sentence, Equality Now reports. Twenty-two states have laws against FMG.

The letter asks that the U.S. launch an education awareness program among teachers, social workers, police, and medical professionals, that it establish an emergency hotline for girls threatened with FGM, and that authorities compile data in the U.S. along the lines of the newly released U.K. study.

Washington has been promising such a study in the U.S., according to Shelby Quast of Equality Now, who told the Daily Beast, "The NHS [in the U.K.] is getting real numbers based on real cases, and this takes [the question] out of the theoretical discussion and clearly puts it into the context of individuals. It’s a very high number, but this is just the tip of the iceberg."

Without doubt, FGM has been happening in the U.S. FGM victim and anti-FGM activist Jaha Dukureh of Safe Hands for Girls told the Daily Beast, "We’ve had calls from girls saying this doesn’t only happen on vacation. We get cut right here in the USA. They have cut us in Minnesota. They have cut us in Claxton, Georgia."

President Barack Obama has pledged to end FGM, stating, "I think that’s a tradition that is barbaric and should be eliminated," The Hill reports.

According to the Guardian, African families in the U.K. will often pool resources to bring a native "cutter" to the U.K. to perform the procedure on their daughters. To date, no one has been convicted of the practice.

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A shocking study in England has revealed that the British National Health Service has treated nearly 2,000 women in the past six months who are victims of female genital mutilation.
Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, victims, illegal
Monday, 20 October 2014 02:35 PM
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