Women’s Rights Activists: ‘Female Genital Mutilation Is Taking Place on U.S. Soil’

AP Photo
(AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty
Washington, DC

Women’s rights activists agree with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller that female genital mutilation (FGM) must be highlighted in order to draw awareness of the violence, which isn’t happening merely in Muslim countries, but also on U.S. soil.

“FGM is taking place on U.S. soil,” Paula Kweskin, producer of Honor Diaries and a women’s rights activist informed Breitbart News, supporting Trump’s adviser’s earlier statements.

Miller shocked CNN’s “State of the Union” panelists on Sunday by declaring that American women are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Citing a statistic from Equality Now, Miller said, “You want to talk about women’s issues? Here’s something we should be talking about. This is a fact. As a result of uncontrolled migration into this country, you can look this up. It’s a statistic from a Equality Now — half a million U.S. girls in this country are at risk of female genital mutilation.”

In fact, Newsweek covered the issue earlier this month, reporting, “The number of women and girls at risk for female genital mutilation (FGM) in the United States has more than doubled in the past 10 years, according to new figures released on Friday.”

The data, the first on FGM in the U.S. for a decade, is being published to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM.

More than half a million women and girls in the U.S. are at risk of undergoing FGM in the U.S. or abroad, or have already undergone the procedure, including 166,173 under the age of 18, according to the Population Reference Bureau(PRB).

Immigration to the U.S. from African and Middle Eastern countries—where the practice of FGM is a deeply entrenched cultural tradition—is the sole factor for the rise in numbers, says Mark Mather, a demographer at PRB who led the data analysis. There has not been an increase in the practice happening in the U.S. itself, he says.

Kweskin, who lives in Israel with her husband, produced Honor Diaries, a documentary that exposes “honor violence” – specifically, honor killings and FGM under Sharia Law.

In Honor Diaries, Kweskin focused on nine women’s rights activists who have links to Muslim based societies and cultures.

“The women share their stories of overcoming and speaking out against honor-based violence, child and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM),” she explained to Breitbart News. “The film grew out of my fascination with the Arab Spring and the role of women in advancing the cause of women’s rights in the Middle East.”

I’m a human rights lawyer by training, and I have always had a passion for women’s rights, so I was drawn to the ways women were attempting to shake off the yoke of oppression. Of course, the Arab Spring soured very quickly, and I realized that women all over the world – regardless of whether they were living in the Middle East – were suffering from similar harms and oppression under the honor system.

Her documentary has aired on six continents and in private screenings in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Iraq. The United Nations and Capitol Hill also showed her film.

It was also screened on U.S. college campuses, but in 2014, it was shut down on a few campuses as a result of efforts from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which argued the documentary was Islamophobic.

She said the reaction to Honor Diaries has mostly been positive, but that both leaders and the media haven’t given enough attention to FGM.

“There will be moments of interest regarding FGM and then silence again,” she explained.

For instance; when the President and First Lady came out strongly against FGM, and promised a thorough study of FGM in America. But the media is easily distracted. The conversation on FGM in the US needs to be sustained so that we see actual change. Where are the training programs for police, doctors, nurses, teachers, and other first responders? Why isn’t there a proliferation of programs to engage with communities in the US who practice FGM? Why haven’t there been any prosecutions under our existing FGM laws?

Kweskin told Breitbart News that she knows personally of incidents of FGM occurring in the United States.

“Jaha Dukureh is a dear friend of Honor Diaries who I first met during the Honor Diaries launch. She speaks out openly and passionately about the incidences of FGM in the USA,” Kweskin explained. “Many victims are silenced, but Jaha is speaking out. And the President of the United States, and the First Lady, have acknowledged that FGM is an issue in America.”

“FGM is taking place on US soil and it is against the law,” she declared.

American men and women should feel a sense of responsibility to speak openly about these issues in order to find sustainable solutions. We tend to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to acknowledging human rights abuses such as FGM; there is a paralyzing political correctness, which prevents us from speaking out about FGM and other ‘cultural’ or ‘religious’ practices. Culture is no excuse for abuse, and in the US – and all over the world – we cannot let these practices continue.

Concerned Women for America’s president and CEO Penny Nance echoed Kewskin’s call to speak up about FGM.

“In my book Feisty & Feminine, I take on the whole issue of radical Islam’s treatment of women,” Nance shared with Breitbart News.

In the chapter I call, ‘The Real War against Women,’ I discuss these horrific issues like female genital mutilation, and child brides…there are some extremely heart breaking horrific acts of abuse and evil going on against women around the world. I think that now is the time for us to lean into this conversation and to talk about what’s happening to women.

Nance also pointed out the hypocrisy politics has played in highlighting this issue.

“The left wrongly believes that because there are portions of the Muslim faith that exercise extreme Islamisism [and] enforce Sharia Law on women, because these people are part of the Muslim faith, we aren’t allowed to talk about it.” Nance charged, “It’s hypocrisy in the highest order.”