Female genital mutilation, which is practiced widely in Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, and India, turns out to be in evidence here in the U.S. as well. This tragic fact is not known by many people. Apparently, in some parts of the U.S. where immigrants from those parts of the world reside, U.S. trained doctors have attempted to perform surgeries on young girls. The World Health Organization (WHO) regards female genital cutting as a violation of human rights. The practice involves cutting of female genitalia and often results in infections and lifelong suffering.
In the past year in Michigan, two doctors from a small Shiite Muslim sect were believed to have arranged cutting of up to 100 girls, according to prosecutors.
The girls are young, some even around 6-years-old. An American journalist who was herself cut at a young age in the U.S., Tasneen Raja, has decided to write about this terrible practice and along with other American women have started a movement to blow the doors open and condemn what has apparently been happening even in the U.S. for years, but has been shrouded in secrecy.
In 1996, female genital mutilation was banned in the United State. And in 2013, traveling to another country for cutting became illegal. Michigan has begun petitions to terminate custodial rights of the parents who have allowed their daughters to undergo this mutilation. The doctors themselves are either under house arrest or behind bars. One of the doctors received her medical degree at Johns Hopkins.
Nazia Mirza of Texas, herself a young victim, is one of the leaders of the movement. She explained in the New York Times article cited above that the justification for the practice is to curb sexual promiscuity or preserve tradition. She was told she needed to do this in order to get married. It’s shocking that American trained doctors are still engaging in this criminal, misogynist, and violent practice against girls. NCL has long championed the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls. These cases grab our attention and give us cause to renew our call that laws against such barbaric practices be enforced and violators punished to the full extent of the law.