Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Applaud important steps being taken to end the cruel practice of female genital mutilation
At a recent female genital mutilation and child marriage summit in London, the Obama administration announced that it would be taking a major step towards stamping out female genital mutilation (FGM). The Department of Health and Human Services will carry out a major study to measure the extent of FGM in the United States and determine how many American women are at risk of becoming FGM victims. Cathy Russell, the US ambassador for global women’s issues, also announced plans to establish a preliminary working group which will devise methods by which to tackle the issue.
The practice of FGM consists of the total or partial removal of the external genitalia and is often carried out with no anesthetic. In certain cultures, FGM is believed to keep women faithful to their husbands and to preserve young girls’ virginity until marriage. Aside from the obvious initial agony, victims experience long-term mental and physical effects, such as complications during menstruation, intercourse, and childbirth.
FGM has been declared a human rights violation by the UN, but that has not prevented it from occurring overseas and even domestically. Many Americans believe that FGM is not a problem here in the United States, but a study from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital estimated that 228,000 women in the United States have experienced FGM or are at risk of it. Though FGM is illegal in the United States, many girls are taken to other countries to be cut in a practice dubbed “vacation cutting.”
Lack of public awareness and availability of up-to-date research on the prevalence of FGM represents a significant hurdle in addressing this problem. According to UNICEF estimates, more than 130 million women, hundreds of thousands of whom are Americans, are living with the consequences of FGM. The study the Obama administration has agreed to launch is a pivotal first step towards ending FGM in the United States and inspiring similar action abroad. Sign the following petition to applaud the Obama administration for its diligent effort towards ending the cruel practice of FGM.
Dear President Obama,
Hundreds of thousands of American women and girls are believed to have suffered from or be at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM). Victims of this heinous procedure suffer from various long-term physical and psychological effects. Although FGM has been outlawed in the United States for over 15 years, it is a problem that continues to endure and thus warrants confrontation.
Thank you for acknowledging FGM as a domestic issue and for dedicating a study to examining the extent of FGM in the United States. Lack of awareness and up-to-date data are two factors in the struggle to tackle the problems posed by FGM, so your recent decisions will lead to a remarkable step towards ending this brutal procedure from occurring. No girl or woman should ever be subjected to such an inhumane practice, so I thank you for your commitment to addressing the problem of FGM.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Amnon Shavit via Wikimedia Commons