As the GAO reports shows, the United States is clearly not doing enough to protect women and girls from this brutal human rights violation. Federal agencies must step up to provide concrete plans to bring this practice to an end. Ad-hoc efforts are not enough. - US Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
1 Dec Update: The End Violence Against Girls: Summit on FGM/C will be livestreamed on 2 Dec, starting at 9am ET. Watch it live!
An eye-opening report released by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in August shows that, though more than half a million women and girls are affected by female genital mutilation (FGM) in the United States (and more than 200 million around the world), US efforts to end the human rights violation domestically and abroad are ineffective and inadequate, particularly due to lack of guidelines and allocated funding.
The health complications from FGM are serious: chronic infection; severe pain during urination, menstruation, and sexual intercourse; complications during childbirth; sexual dysfunction; increased risk of newborn deaths; psychological trauma; and sometimes, death. US Federal laws and policies recognize FGM as an extreme form of violence against women and girls, and 24 states have laws against FGM. However, the steps taken by federal agencies to live up to commitments to address FGM domestically and abroad are not nearly enough.
If girls' hands or feet were cut off there'd be a bigger outcry…When you talk about FGM in the US people cringe. They don't want to talk about it. They want to think of it as a faraway issue. – Jaha Dukureh, anti-FGM activist
On 22 September, Equality Now Americas Director, Shelby Quast and anti-FGM activist and Safe Hands for Girls founder, Jaha Dukureh, joined US Senator Harry Reid in Washington, DC to call on the government to immediately increase its actions to end FGM.
The international community agreed on a Sustainable Development Goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (Goal 5). An important target of that goal is to eliminate harmful practices such as FGM. We need to make sure our global commitments are honored at home…It is vital that FGM is part of child protection systems. – Shelby Quast
At the press conference, Reid also announced that the first ever US Summit to End FGM/C (cutting) will be held on 2 December in Washington DC. Hosted by Equality Now, Safe Hands for Girls and the US End FGM/C Network, with the support of the Wallace Global Fund and the Human Dignity Foundation, the goal of the summit is to create a concrete and comprehensive plan that government departments (Health and Human Services, Education, Justice, Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and child protection services can use to address FGM effectively. Expected attendees include: survivor activists, civil society organizations, community and religious leaders, educators, the medical community, government representatives, the UN and donors supporting an end to FGM from across the US and abroad.
Photo: Members of the US Network to End FGM/C and US Summit to End FGM/C Planning Committee, including Georgetown, Global Health Initiative, Wallace Global Fund, Equality Now, IAC-USA, Safe Hands for Girls, US Dept. of State, Office of Global Women’s Issues, SFW and ICRW.
- MAP: FGM in the United States
- Press Release: U.S. Department of State to Host ‘US. End FGM/C Summit
- A history of FGM in the United States
- Harry Reid Slams US Government for Failure to Address FGM
- Will the deaths of these 5 girls from FGM spark a global wake-up call?
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5
Equality Now has been at the forefront of efforts to end FGM, pushing for laws that protect girls and criminalize the practice, and supporting grassroots activists working to end FGM in their communities. Stay tuned for our upcoming web series featuring the testimonies of survivors working to end FGM in their communities and around the world.