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Published On: Mon, Mar 18th, 2013

New report reveals Female genital mutilation rising in US

While it’s considered an ancient and brutal practice, female genital mutilation (FGM) is a growing threat to girls and women in the US, according to a new report.

Middle Eastern girls are increasling at risk of FGM in the US, says new report photo Zainub Razvi

Middle Eastern girls are increasling at risk of FGM in the US, says new report photo Zainub Razvi

The United States has longstanding laws against the practice of FGM on U.S. soil and in January, passed a federal law against sending young women outside the country for so-called “vacation cutting”.

Girls living in America are increasingly at risk of the procedure both at home and abroad, according to research by Sanctuary for Families.

The New York City-based non-profit organization, which specializes in gender-based violence, said up to 200,000 girls and women in the United States are at risk of FGM and that the number is growing.

“People in the United States think that FGM only happens to people outside of the United States, but in all actuality, people here all over the country have been through FGM,” said Jaha, 23, formerly from Gambia and now a survivor and advocate against FGM.

“Kids that were born in this country are taken back home every summer and undergo this procedure,” she was quoted as saying in the report.

The study cited analysis of data from the 2000 census that found between 1990 and 2000 the number of girls and women in the United States at risk of the procedure, which involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia – increased by 35 percent.

The practice is most prevalent in immigrant African and Middle Eastern communities. FGM generally originates in the belief by some cultures that it preserves a girl’s virginity before marriage and discourages her from promiscuity after she is wed.

In many communities, a girl is deemed unfit for marriage if she has not undergone FGM.

The report said FGM has been performed in the United States by health care providers who support FGM or do not want to question families’ cultural practices.

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