Equality Now works to end FGM in the US

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May 2014

We have come to understand that effective approaches to ending FGM must be holistic and include not only getting appropriate laws and policy in place, but also measures focused on child protection, prevention, provision of services to affected women and girls at risk, partnerships and sharing of information and strategies between different organizations and, when necessary, prosecutions.
- Shelby Quast, Senior Policy Adviser, Equality Now

Part of the difficulty in recognizing and addressing the problem in the US is the lack of awareness and up-to-date research/statistics on the prevalence of FGM…In order to improve efforts to protect these little girls, we must know the facts about FGM in the US.
-Jaha Dukureh, FGM survivor and activist, Safe Hands for Girls

For more than 20 years, Equality Now has been working with partners across Africa and around the world to end female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM is internationally-recognized as a human rights violation, torture and an extreme form of violence against women and girls. According to UNICEF’s 2013 report, if current trends continue, up to 30 million girls are at risk over the coming decade. 

In the United States, though it is illegal to perform FGM or knowingly transport a girl out of the country to inflict FGM upon her, it’s been estimated* that 168,000 American girls and women have either been – or are at risk of being – subjected to FGM. Equality Now has helped inform U.S. policy on FGM and continues to advocate with FGM survivors for a joined-up approach to effective implementation of U.S. laws and policies against it, and for greater public awareness of this human rights violation.

The U.S. is now in a position to show true leadership on this issue, both nationally and internationally. Therefore, alongside Jaha Dukureh and Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Equality Now is actively advocating for the Administration to conduct a new prevalence study on FGM to build a strong information base as the first step towards a comprehensive strategic action plan to end FGM. Building on the momentum to end FGM in Africa and the UK, it is imperative that we put girls and women center stage in the post 2015 framework and accelerate an end to FGM and all harmful practices affecting women and girls, globally. 

Jaha started a petition calling on President Obama and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to update the extremely dated* statistics on FGM in the as a first step to understanding the scope of the problem in the U.S. Help her reach her 200,000 signature goal by signing her petition today! Equality Now, Jaha and Congressman Crowley will travel to Washington, DC on June 11 to call on the Obama Administration to create a national strategy to address FGM.

To learn more about FGM, its history in the United States and laws against it, read our factsheet.

To learn more about Equality Now’s work to end FGM visit: www.equalitynow.org/fgm

The Honorable Joseph Crowley (D-NY) is calling on his colleagues in Congress to support a comprehensive plan to end FGM. View his letter here.


Selected press clips:
FGM survivors: 'It happens on US soil, but it happens in secret' (The Guardian)
American survivor of female genital mutilation calls on US to take action (The Guardian)
Horrific Taboo: Female Circumcision on the Rise in U.S. (NBC News)
Why Aren’t More People Talking About Female Genital Mutilation in the U.S.? (Cosmopolitan)