A Simple Kitchen Utensil Helps Girls Escape Female Genital Mutilation
A Spoon Alerts Swedish Airport Staff That Girls Are Being Targeted for FGM or Driven Into Forced Marriages
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Law enforcement officers can employ a variety of techniques to fight crime, root out criminal conduct, use DNA technology to catch criminals, and rely on digital footprints to track down felons.
Yet, some crimes do not lend themselves to cyber solutions, says international child advocate and attorney Elizabeth Yore, leader of the national #EndFGMToday initiative.
“The unique and covert nature of global trafficking of child female genital mutilation (FGM) victims introduces a baffling challenge for law enforcement interdiction,” Yore says. “While not a sophisticated crime, the familial and secretive nature of the crime of FGM requires ingenious and enterprising crime-fighting tactics. The victims are young, threatened into silence and powerless. Perpetrators and organizers of the mutilation of little girls’ genitals are often parents and relatives, thus making crime-solving difficult for police.”
However, Yore adds, necessity is the mother of invention. Airport staff in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city with nearly 1 million people, discovered a simple and unique way to empower the growing number of potential FGM and child marriage victims who travel through the airport. Immigrant girls living in Sweden who are being taken overseas for purposes of a forced child marriage or FGM are advised to place a metal spoon in their underwear before going through airport metal detectors, which will alert security that they are destined for child marriage or FGM. This spoon will trigger staff to separate the girls from their family and interview the girls in the safety of law enforcement.
Yore reports that a 2015 study found up to 38,000 girls and women living in Sweden may have undergone FGM—with victims including women born in Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt and Gambia. Like many others, these countries practice FGM, and this practice is imported into Europe through migrating immigrant populations. Yet, a more recent study found that 150,000 women in Sweden are victims of female genital mutilation—an increase of over 100,000. According to a 2016 estimation by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), around 200 million women living today have undergone this procedure.
Yore also notes that FGM is recognized by both the World Health Organization and the UN as a human rights violation, and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 513,000 girls and women are at risk of FGM in the United States.
Learn more about FGM at www.EndFGMToday.com or on social media at #EndFGMToday.