For more than two decades, underage girls in this country have been federally protected from the horrific practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). The ritualistic cutting or removal of a young girl’s external genitalia is an anachronistic act that occurs mostly in parts of Africa, the Middle East and a few countries in Asia. Last month, during a trial of a Michigan doctor accused of performing FGM on nine minor girls, a federal judge ruled that the law banning FGM is unconstitutional. Now, Congress and the states must act immediately to re-enact FGM protections.
FGM is decried internationally for its cruelty. It is denounced by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as a violation of basic human rights and a form of child abuse. At its most basic, this practice is rooted in the desire to control a woman’s sexuality. Physicians worldwide agree that FGM is medically unnecessary, and the procedure poses physical, sexual, and psychological dangers for the young victims. These girls, sometimes only a few days old, are subjected to an act that will have a profound negative effect on their lives.
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