Immigrant FGM In Chicago: ‘No One Talks About It’

Women in traditional Muslim dress take part in prayers outside the federal courthouse, Oct
AP Photo/Jim Mone

Immigrant parents are cutting the genitals of American girls in Democratic-run diverse Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

FGM, for Female Genital Mutilation, “is happening, but no one talks about it,” said Chicago nurse and immigrant Elizabeth Ralyea, who was invited to live in the United States in 1990. She arrived at age 21 from the West African country of Burkina Faso and was a victim of FGM around the age of seven.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

Women in Chicago said the tradition is a familiar one. They have friends who were cut as girls or friends who are considering the procedure for their own daughters.

One Chicago woman who is a member of the small Muslim sect Dawoodi Bohra … said she was asked recently by another mother if she was considering what she called circumcision for her daughter …

For most U.S. women and girls who have been cut, the procedure was performed in their home country before moving here, [anti-FGM activist Joanna] Vergoth said, or while they were sent abroad — often called “vacation cutting.”

The issue is becoming very visible following the Department of Justice’s arrest of three Muslims in April for allegedly conducting FGM on Minnesota children in Detroit. Officials suspect that additional American girls were allegedly cut by the same doctors.

In Falls Church, Virginia, leaders at a hard-line mosque decided to keep their top cleric after he appeared on video apparently approving clitoris-cutting for American girls born into Muslim families. A deputy leader at the mosque resigned when the leaders refused to fire the cleric, who had the support of many people in the mostly Arab congregation.

Officials working for President Donald Trump say reducing FGM is a national priority.

“The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse,” said Assistant Attorney General of the justice department’s criminal division, Kenneth Blanco, on April 13.

“Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch said in a statement. “The practice has no place in modern society,” he added.

The Chicago Tribune article adds to growing evidence that FGM of American girls is widespread among U.S.-based immigrants from northern Africa, from Arab nations and from Muslim nations in Asia, including Indonesia and Malaysia.

“In slightly more than two decades, from 1990 to 2012, the total number of women and girls in the United States at risk for FGM/C[utting] or its consequences increased by 224%, from 168,000 to 545,000,” according to a government research report in the March/April 2016 issue of  Public Health Reports.

The ancient practice predates the creation of Islam in the 620s, and occurs among some Christian communities, but it has become part of Islamic culture in many countries, including Indonesia.

The evidence gathered by researchers suggests that most cases involve removing the tips of the girls’ clitorises, but in many cases — especially among Sudanese and Somalis — the procedures include the removal of all external genitalia, leaving only a smooth appearance and a thin hole for urinating and menstruation. The procedure often removes the female glands which provide lubrication during sex.

In many cases, the FGM is arranged by mothers who want their girls to marry high-status men in their immigrant community.




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