More Than 500,000 Women In America Have Had Their Genitals Removed, FBI Says It Is Investigating

It has emerged from the United States that more than 500,000 women living in the country have had their genitals removed through the practice known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The World Health Organization defines FGM as the total or partial removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The United Nations describes FGM as an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls, wherever it is being practiced.

FGM has been traditionally performed in the Middle East and Africa as a cultural custom. Proponents of the practice argue that it makes the female less promiscuous. Also, those practicing FGM generally assert that they are observing deeply rooted traditions and beliefs that they inherited from their forefathers. Due to these deeply rooted belief systems, total eradication of the practice has become a problem for many governments around the world.

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According to a recent study by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 513,000 women and girls in the United States were at risk of undergoing FGM as of 2012. This latest figure is said to be more than three times higher than previous estimates based on data from 1990. In 1996, the United States Congress passed a law to make FGM illegal in America.

But despite FGM being banned by Congress, it is believed some women have been sent abroad to have the procedure performed on them, compelling Congress to pass additional legislation to make “vacation cutting” illegal as well.

The CDC said the number of women and girls at risk below the age of 18 had increased by more than four times, making up about one-third of potential victims. It is said most of the women and girls at risk generally live in major urban areas such as New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. You can watch the video below to see how people are testifying about the practice of FGM in the United States.

The rise of the figure, according to the CDC, is due to a rapid growth in the number of immigrants from FGM -practicing countries arriving in the United States. The CDC has officially handed over the statistics to one of the country’s law enforcement agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The FBI said it is following up on leads and tips concerning the practice, and that offenders could be prosecuted at the International Human Rights Unit for gross human rights violations.

The Bureau’s Special Agent in charge of FGM cases, Kerry Sparks, was quoted by the RT English News as saying:  “We believe some of it is being conducted by medical practitioners, physicians, nurses, midwives and some by female elders within the communities who have the distinction of being what is called a cutter.”

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The FBI also appealed to the public to volunteer to give information in order for investigators to uncover potential cases in their various neighborhoods across the country.

In the past, the FBI and the Border Patrol agency issued a joint statement warning citizens to desist the practice. In February 2016, during the observation of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the two law enforcement agencies called for the total eradication of the practice in the United States and elsewhere. They also warned that anyone suspected of being involved in it, including those sending girls abroad to have their genitals cut, could be prosecuted by the Human Rights Violators and the War Crimes Center.