Guest post: To make sure the girls in category 2 don’t end up in category 3

Originally a comment by Anne Fenwick on FGM in the US.

It is frustrating that neither society nor the statistics seem good at separating 1) women who arrive as immigrants having undergone FGM in their previous countries; 2) their daughters who may be considered at risk; 3) those daughters who actually undergo FGM in a western country or ‘on vacation’. I’m glad this article seemed to get the problem – though I do wonder about their choice of age range, I think we would use a different one in the UK.

What seems to be important is that the arrival of a large number of women in category 1 is going to necessitate a response. In the first place, they’re going to have specific health care needs which the country isn’t used to meeting. I do wonder how that’s going to work out in the US (not that the UK has distinguished itself recently, or anything). It frustrates me when people complain about the necessity of dealing with this as though it was a terrible imposition. That strikes me as practically victim-blaming.

Then there’s the information campaign to make sure the girls in category 2 don’t end up in category 3. That’s very important, because the next stage should be a last resort, after every effort has been expended here. And lastly, the criminal justice stage for people who do put girls into category 3. I just wish people would stop mentally jumping through the first two stages as though they didn’t exist.


  1. says

    Thank you for posting these. I’m amazed at how many are still willing to believe FGM has long been eradicated. Or that it couldn’t happen to girls once they and their families have been exposed to the “civilizing” culture of Western nations.

  2. quixote says

    One place in the US that can help women who’ve already been cut is Dr. Nawal Nour’s African Women’s Health Center in Boston at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They could probably also help find resources in other parts of the country. Or maybe not. I’ve only ever heard of the one. But there have got to be more. Right? Right?

    You’re absolutely on target that there is not enough done anywhere for wonmen in any of the three situations.

  3. Blanche Quizno says

    Considering that the women in question are no doubt going to be in a feared, distrusted, hated, and ostracized minority, mostly identifiable by their skin color and their choice of dress, and a minority that tends to keep apart from mainstream US culture, I think this group is going to have a more difficult time than other groups in finding advocates, within the health services industry, the legal system, and pretty much everywhere else. It’s very similar to addressing the violent child abuse and sexual assaults within the Amish community, discussed here on this site just a coupla days ago.

    I think most people will appear indistinguishable from the stereotypical neighbor of a serial killer: “He was always such a nice, polite young man; helpful, but quiet – kept to himself. He never caused any trouble in the neighborhood.”

  4. Allo V Psycho says

    There is a discussion about FGM going on at Heteronormative Patriarchy for Men which might be of interest to some.

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