You’d think the fact that the vast majority of FGM takes place in Islamic societies would be relevant to the story… and you’d be wrong.

Via NBC News:

When Marie was two years old, a woman in her village in Africa cut off her clitoris and labia. Now 34 and living thousands of miles away in New York, she is still suffering.

“I have so many problems, with my husband, with sex, with childbirth,” she told NBC News, withholding her real name to protect her identity. “The consequences on my life are all negative, both physically and psychologically.”

The practice of Female Genital Mutilation is common across much of Africa, where it is believed to ensure sexual purity before marriage. But Marie says FGM is also “very common” in some communities in America.

“The pressure to get daughters cut is great,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 150,000 to 200,000 girls in the U.S. are at risk of being forced to undergo cutting. The CDC says “at risk” because there are no actual records of the practice, only estimates – and old estimates at that. Its latest data date to 1997, the year after it was banned in the U.S.

But citing anecdotal evidence from health professionals and frontline workers, experts who work with victims and their communities say FGM is on the rise. […]

For Americans on the outside of communities where it is practiced, FGM is such an unknown that many medical workers, law enforcement and child protection officers are not informed on how to proceed when confronted with it.

“This has been such a taboo topic, we [haven’t been able to] take it out from under the table. We need to make it something that can be discussed,” said Shelby Quast, senior policy adviser of Equality Now, an international women’s rights NGO.

“There has to be a huge shift so that we identify this as a form of violence against girls – and not something that’s protected as a cultural and religious tradition,” she said.

Keep reading…

HT: Jay

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