Target: Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton
Goal: Stop female genital mutilation on American-born girls from families that have emigrated from regions that still participate in this dangerous practice.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the act of cutting a young girl’s genitalia, a practice culturally found in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. While federal law prohibits FGM on U.S. soil, some families opt to send girls abroad to be cut, a practice known as “vacation cutting.” According to the Population Reference Bureau, Minnesota has the highest rate of at-risk girls with over 80 per 10,000 female residents. This endangers American-born girls from families who have recently emigrated from regions that participate in FGM.
Many believe FGM guards a woman’s honor, curbs her sexual appetite or brings her family luck. Instead, FGM brings a life of pain to survivors during sex and menstruation, as well as a host of other medical problems, including emotional trauma, infertility, frequent bladder infections and complications during childbirth. To these newly emigrated families, FGM is a rite of passage for young girls, and assimilating into a new country and culture does not erase preconceived notions and ancient traditions. Only eight states have specific laws that prohibit vacation cutting, although upward of 500,000 American girls are at risk.
FGM and vacation cutting must be stopped. Speak up to prohibit these practices in Minnesota and encourage other states to do the same.
Dear Governor Dayton,
Female genital mutilation is a practice that cuts young girls in the name of purity and it must be stopped. Although FGM is typically found throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa, over 500,000 American girls are at risk. Federal law prohibits FGM on U.S. soil, but “vacation cutting,” the practice of sending young girls abroad to be cut, is still prevalent throughout the United States.
Eight states have added their own laws to protect at-risk girls. Minnesota has the highest rate of at-risk girls, according to the Population Reference Bureau, but does not have an additional state law to prevent vacation cutting. American girls who are considered at-risk are typically born in the United States and belong to families who have roots in cultures who participate in FGM.
The effects of FGM are traumatic and severely affect women’s health long term. Survivors often face lifelong pain during menstruation and sex, as well as infertility, frequent bladder infections and complications during childbirth.
FGM is done to guard a woman’s honor, control her sexual desire or even bring her family luck. In reality, FGM is a human rights violation that must be prevented. Add Minnesota to the list of states willing to double down and protect American girls from FGM.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jessica Lea