The national #EndFGMToday initiative is applauding law enforcement from the United States and United Kingdom, as both nations recently hosted a “week of action” focusing on the eradication of the brutal practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).
U.S. and U.K officials conducted outreach efforts at major international airports with the goal of education and prevention of female genital mutilation. The outreach, called “Operation Limelight.” was conducted at four international airports in the U.S.—John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport—and at Heathrow Airport and train stations throughout the UK.
Even though FGM has been a federal crime since 1996, international child advocate Elizabeth Yore, who serves as the head of #EndFGMToday and has worked on many cases of child abuse—which FGM is—says local prosecutors also need state laws to crack down on this horrific crime. Yore follows closely the FGM prosecutions in both the U.S. and U.K.
“The fastest-growing import into the United States is not a product or technology, rather it is a barbaric practice called FGM,” Yore said. “The influx of refugees from FGM practicing countries is causing a massive uptick in this brutal procedure inflicted on little girls from ages 3 to 12. With little fanfare, but with a phalanx of cooperating federal agencies, the often-scorned ICE is proactively addressing this federal crime by educating and alerting the public that FGM is a crime, whether performed in the U.S. or U.K. or traveling out of the country for the procedure commonly called ‘FGM vacation cutting.'”
On Aug. 30, law enforcement from both countries also gathered at the U.S. embassy in London to sign a proclamation affirming their commitment to end the practice of FGM in both countries and around the world. The proclamation reads, in part: “Female genital mutilation/cutting is a global issue that transcends our borders. FGM/C is a culturally-based, gender-specific form of violence and when performed on girls under the age of 18, it is child abuse. The top priorities of the U.K. and U.S. are safeguarding girls through prevention, multi-agency partnership and education. These efforts require that we learn and share our experiences and cooperate through both our informal and formal engagements.”
Added United Kingdom’s National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead on Female Genital Mutilation Commander Ivan Balhatchet at the time of the proclamation: “FGM is a barbaric and violent crime enacted on girls who suffer the results for the rest of their lives. It is child abuse, and no religion, culture or tradition should be allowed to mitigate or make an excuse for such appalling crimes. It is even more traumatic because it is generally committed or facilitated by their families who they should look to for love and protection.”
Yore noted that the Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 500,000 girls and women are at risk of FGM in the United States. Female genital mutilation is also recognized by both the World Health Organization and the United Nations as a human rights violation perpetrated upon little girls and women. Over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to this cruel and barbaric practice.
Anyone who has information about an individual suspected of committing or assisting in FGM is urged to call ICE or the FBI. The ICE tip line is: 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423) or complete the online tip form here. This line is staffed 24-hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous. Tips can also be submitted to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov.
Learn more about FGM on social media at #EndFGMToday, as well as efforts in the U.S. to stop it.