FGM Is Happening Here
D.C. Area Doctor Writes About Instances of FGM He Witnesses Weekly in His Exam Room
#EndFGMToday Says Medical Community Must Come Together to Condemn Female Genital Mutilation in America
WASHINGTON—In a new op-ed for The Hill, an obstetrician writes that how, a few times a week in his office, a moment in the exam room hangs thick in the air. A woman’s body stiffens, her spirit crumples. She has been violated in the most horrific of ways—the intimate parts that make her a woman knifed off in a barbaric ritual.
“As an OB/GYN doctor practicing in a suburb of Washington, D.C., I see women every day in my office that have some form of this practice known as female genital mutilation (FGM),” shares Dr. Saul Weinreb. “Alarmingly, the number of U.S. women and girls who have undergone or are at risk of undergoing this horrific practice has more than tripled over the last two decades due to the rapid growth of immigrants from countries where the risk of FGM is greatest.
“My personal experience as a physician administering to patients in Prince George’s County, Maryland, confirms a 2013 Population Reference Bureau census finding that there are approximately 500,000 women and girls in the United States that have undergone or are at risk of the procedure,” he continued for The Hill.
The national #EndFGMToday initiative is praising Dr. Weinreb for his brave exposé of FGM in America, and says that the medical community must come together to bring to light and condemn this horrific procedure.
“We are certain that other medical professionals like Dr. Weinreb are also witnessing cases of FGM right here in America,” said Elizabeth Yore, international child advocate and head of #EndFGMToday. “His attesting to the fact that he is routinely seeing mutilated female patients suggests that other American doctors must be as well. And while they can do little to reverse the effects of the women who experienced FGM 10, 20 or even 30 years ago, they can help prevent this tragedy for other little girls. After seeing the trauma—both physical and mental—these women experience, doctors and nurses can help make the case for a ban as well as mandatory reporting requirements and statute of limitations extensions. These related issues are part of several state bills currently in the works, and we are encouraged to see that this crime and abuse against women and girls is finally coming out of the darkness.”
A new bill recently passed by the Tennessee Senate requires health care practitioners to report incidents of FGM and heads to the Tennessee House next. SB 1800 requires all hospitals, facilities and practitioners to report to the Department of Health information about any incident that appears to be female genital mutilation within 30 days of treatment.
Yore noted that female genital mutilation is 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. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 513,000 girls and women are at risk of FGM in the United States. Twenty-six states and the federal government have criminalized FGM. Anti-FGM efforts are underway in several other states.
Learn more about FGM on social media at #EndFGMToday, as well as efforts in the U.S. to stop it.