IN THE NEWS

Nov 13, 2017

 

For many years, perhaps even for generations, female genital mutilation (FGM) in the U.S. has gone unreported, unsuspected and undetected because of the secretive trafficking of this barbaric practice.

Now, a landmark case is helping create awareness about FGM, which happens right here in America. The first federal prosecution of female genital mutilation is occurring in Detroit, Michigan, with the indictment of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, who, along with her alleged conspirators, is part of the Muslim sect Dawoodi Bohra, which mandates this horrific practice on their young daughters, reports Elizabeth Yore, head of the initiative EndFGMToday. Nagarwala is charged with conspiracy, genital mutilation, transporting minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, lying to a federal agent and obstructing an official proceeding. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison.

Yore, who advocates for children, hopes this case will bring the crime of FGM out of the darkness and into the light so perpetrators can be prosecuted. She has been working closely with Childhelp, which offered a child abuse hotline for suspected cases of FGM as well.

“Incredibly,” Yore wrote in an op-ed for Townhall.com about the FBI’s FGM hotline, “a federal statute outlawing FGM was passed in 1996, and it has taken 21 years to bring a federal criminal prosecution. While this is a first important step, it signals the depth and extent of the covert conspiracy of silence to protect this hideous and barbaric practice on unsuspecting little girls. The public should be aware that it is also a federal crime to take a child out of the U.S. for the purposes of FGM.”

Trained representatives from the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline answer calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and all calls are confidential. Those who call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) can speak with professional crisis counselors who have access to resources on female genital mutilation, which is indeed child abuse, Yore said.

Through interpreters, Childhelp counselors provide assistance in more than 170 languages, and the hotline offers crisis intervention, information and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service and support resources. Yore urged the posting of the Childhelp hotline in offices, schools, transportation hubs including international airports, stores, hospitals and public spaces in order to defend girls from the vicious assault of FGM.

Yore also noted that the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 513,000 women and girls in the U.S. are at risk for this brutal procedure. And the number of potential FGM victims is likely vastly unreported, she said. Despite the fact that the World Health Organization and the United Nations declared FGM a violation of human rights, more than 200 million women and girls are subjected to this torture around the world.

“Americans must demand that FGM no longer be imported and practiced in our country,” said Yore. “It’s against the law. It violates the human rights of little girls, and its barbarism will not be tolerated here. The potential victims of female genital mutilation deserve and need the protection of law enforcement so that no girl will be subjected to this brutal sexual assault.”

Learn more at www.EndFGMToday.com and on social media at #EndFGMToday about FGM and efforts underway in the U.S. to stop it.

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