An organization is calling on all states to put an end to female genital mutilation (FGM). (Caution: Some may find the topic in this story objectionable.)
"We still have about 19 states that have not criminalized this heinous practice that has been flooding the United States as we have migrants who are coming from countries that have practiced this procedure for millennia," says Elizabeth Yore of EndFGMToday. "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 513,000 women and girls in the United States are at risk of FGM."
FGM is often performed on young girls between the ages of five and nine. The procedure is practiced among many Muslim groups, although not all Islamic groups practice FGM. In fact, the United Nations Population Fund says non-Islamic groups practice FGM, including some Christians, Ethiopian Jews, and followers of certain traditional African religions.
"This past year, we had a federal judge who found the federal FGM crime bill unconstitutional," Yore continues. "So it just raises the urgency that all states must criminalize this behavior – because … if a state does not have a law outlawing FGM, that state becomes a safe harbor for mutilators."
Yore says reasons for not outlawing FGM include religious rights and the perception that FGM isn't a problem in that state.
"Twenty years ago, they were talking about human trafficking, saying Oh, it doesn't happen in our state – and that, we know, is a myth," she adds. "This is a child abuse issue and we need to protect all children from this heinous practice."
Toward that end, EndFGMToday aims to educate the American public about this exploitation of females it says is "covertly performed in violation of American law."