October 11 was declared the International Day of the Girl Child almost 10 years ago. Though we have made considerable progress in the last decade, there is so much more we can and must do to protect girls facing horrors like forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) everywhere.
Here is just one example: it’s been almost 5 years since the first federal FGM trial in the U.S. began; meanwhile 10 states and the District of Columbia still do not have state legislation banning this abuse. For legislators in these states, hearing about Dr Nagarwala and her accomplices, who allegedly cut nearly 100 girls in a clinic near Detroit, Michigan, was not a sufficient warning that the same atrocities could be happening in their own backyards.
Last month, prosecution in this trial came forward with new charges, accusing Dr Nagarwala and her accomplices of lying to the FBI about FGM happening in their community. I was dismayed to learn that the case has been dismissed by a federal judge. I feel anguish for the girls who will never get justice, but I also feel a renewed determination to fight on. Though we have lost this battle, the war can still be won. Read our update on this trial here. You can check if your state has banned FGM here.
Giving the survivors and girls at risk a voice and an opportunity to be heard is a critical step in the fight for their rights. There is no better example of how this occurs than the work our case managers do through the AHA Foundation Helpline. In our blog this month, one of our case managers talks about his experience serving as the first point of contact for at-risk girls.
As you know well, hearing about the experiences of these girls can often be heartbreaking, as the lengths oppressors are willing to go to in the name of tradition or religion are often unimaginable. However, this does not mean one should shy away from learning about the dangers facing young women around the world and right here in America. On the contrary, if enough of us heard these stories and expressed collective anger and dismay, we could make significant strides in ridding our world of these dangers.
I hope that you will commit again to helping break the silence about dangerous cultural practices. Amplify the voices of survivors by sharing our blogs with friends and family. Send a gift to support AHA Foundation’s work. If your state has not yet banned FGM or child marriage, contact your representative and demand they take action.
Let’s recommit to continuing this fight until every girl is safe from abuse.
Thank you for your continued support,
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder