[ View the story "Fighting the cut" on Storify] Fighting the cut How can the ban on female genital cutting be enforced in the UK and US?
The Stream· Mon, Aug 04 2014 18:08:37
World Health Organization defines Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) as “the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons." The cultural practice dates back more than 2,000 years and more than 125 million women and girls are thought to have undergone it 29 countries. It is mainly practised in Eastern and Western Africa, and parts of the Middle East and Asia.
While the numbers are a third lower today than they were 30 years ago, the
rate of decline
is not large enough to counter population growth. According to
, if current trends continue, up to 30 million girls could be at risk in the next decade.
Though many associate the practice with religious or tribal communities living in Africa and the Middle East, a recent
study shows that rates of FGM/C are rising in the West, particularly in the United Kingdom and Wales.
women and girls are affected by FGM/C in the United Kingdom and while data is scarce, an estimated
American women and girls have been subjected to - or are at risk of being subjected to - FGM/C in the United States.
FGM/C has been in illegal in the UK since 1985, yet the first successful
only came this year. In Britain's first annual
, Prime Minister David Cameron
several measures to combat the practice, including making it mandatory for teachers to report suspected cases of FGM/C to authorities with an intent to prosecute parents and $2.4 million in funding to implement a prevention program.
Today, UK's first @GirlSummit will rally a global movement to end forced marriage & #FGM for all girls. #GirlSummit
the Sky Mvmt
The video below, used as part of the Girl Summit campaign, asks "What freedom means" in efforts to bring attention to FGM/C and forced marriage:
What does freedom mean to you? #FreedomIsukdfid
The increase in numbers is largely attributed to the growing number of
immigrants coming from countries where FGM/C is practiced. " Vacation cutting" occurs when families living in the West send daughters to their ancestral land to be cut. As part of new guidelines to end FGM/C, UK authorities have been trained to look for signs of at-risk children in airports, especially during the summer, which is known as "cutting season".
other scenarios, "house doctors" are flown into Western countries to perform the procedure. In Britain, these are known as " FGM parties". These "doctors" are typically not medical professionals, but rather highly respected, older women from the community. They commonly operate on as many as a dozen girls at a time.
While the numbers are new, the matter is not. Many anti-FGM/C activists have been
calling attention to the problem for decades. Leyla Hussein, co-founder of Daughters of Eve and a survivor of FGM/C, filmed "The Cruel Cut" as part of a larger campaign to bring attention to the issue in the UK:
The Cruel Cutblazingcatfur
The PSA below describes the practise and the importance of language when speaking of FGM/C. Hussein's efforts to bring attention to the problem in the UK strive to make an uncomfortable or taboo topic more accessible to those who know very little about it:
WARNING: This video contains graphic images and may not be suitable for all audiences.
Female genital mutilationweareequals
In the United States, FGM/C has been
since 1996. In 2000, it was estimated that
women and girls were at risk of FGM/C in the country that year alone. However, data on the subject has been limited, the latest study having been conducted in 1997. Last year, President Obama
legislation which makes the transportation of girls to other countries for FGM/C punishable by five years in jail.
Activist and FGM/C survivor
started a petition to research the number of those affected across the nation. Her advocacy led to the
of a major study into the practice by the Obama administration. The US government also plans on establishing a "preliminary working group on FGM".
Jaha's campaign to end FGMchangepress
Many in The Stream community expressed their thoughts on the subject, pointing to gender discrimination and patriarchy as reasons why FGM/C is still prevalent:
@Nuri_ibrahim @AJStream It's like foot binding, old fashioned women think if girls aren't "cut" they won't get a husband.James Dahl
@AJStream families will discourage victims speaking out, many may even accept the act as part of culture and not realize they are victims.Jane Armstrong.
@AJStream FGM is a cultural phenomenon supporting a cultural religious philosophy that demonises & attempts to control female sexualityNamaa Al-Mahdi نعماء
@AJStream FMG is a way to force control over women bodies. Men fear women who can think for themselves or take our own choices.Dra Libertad Ramirez
Some provided potential solutions to combat the problem:
@Nuri_ibrahim @AJStream when u go to communities possibly affected, and discuss the horrible impacts, you get them on board, simple as thatOsamah Mohammed
@Nuri_ibrahim @AJStream more awareness campaigns such as PSA's, anonymous helplines, as I'm sure many are ashamed to speak out.Jane Armstrong.
@AJStream Ed campaign might do well starting by determining & addressing motivations for cutting. Follow-up with sharing victims' stories.Dawn M Gibson