by Nada Khader
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a deeply harmful practice that is rooted in ancient patriarchal culture and involves the cutting of varying amounts of female genitalia as a form of social control. Over two hundred million women and girls in the world today have been subjected to this form of torture. Unfortunately, immigrants who come to the United States bring this practice with them. A federal judge has recently ruled that a federal ban on FGM is unconstitutional because he says “Congress has overstepped its bounds by legislating to prohibit FGM” because FGM is a local criminal activity that states need to regulate and not the federal government. The judge in Michigan issued this ruling in response to a case last year that involves two doctors and four parents who have been accused of subjecting girls to FGM. Read the full article here: Judge rules federal ban on FGM unconstitutional
In more positive news on this topic, a recent study examining this practice in African countries has found a huge decline in girls under fourteen years of age being subjected to this practice, in large part due to the diligent efforts of local women on the ground educating their communities about the need to end FGM. The study suggests that in 1995, 71% of girls were subjected to FGM in these countries, whereas in 2016 they only found 8% of girls had been subjected to FGM. However, the authors of the research do admit that communities may be under-reporting the numbers of girls subjected to genital cutting due to external pressures to end this practice. Huge Fall in FGM Rates
From our perspective as Women Proutists, our respect for the diversity of cultural expressions stops at the point where a practice is clearly harmful and violates a person’s basic rights, such as the practice of FGM. We support the work of front line advocates who have raised our awareness on this topic, such as the women involved with Equality Now, who have been working tirelessly to pass laws outlawing the practice. Currently in the United States, only 27 states have passed laws criminalizing FGM. We have more work to do to ensure that it is not legal in any state to expose girls to this form of torture.