There is a horrifying, archaic practice that takes place all around the world, even in the United States today, despite the fact that the World Health Organization denounces the procedure. Female genital mutilation (FGM) does not just affect young girls in far away lands; the practice’s statistics raise suspicion in our own home country as well. This horrendous procedure haunts thousands of women throughout the world suffering daily in their own living nightmares, and it is well past the time to end it.

 

Jaha Dukureh, a 24-year-old Atlanta resident, created a petition calling for President Obama and the Department of Health and Human Services to commission a study re-examining FGM figures. The petition  has already reached well over 200,000 signatures. The next step prompts President Obama’s support.

 

Before moving to Atlanta and taking responsibility for moving forward in this fight, Dukureh hailed from Gambia originally, where she herself was mutilated as a young girl. She writes on her Change.org petition page:

It took away a part of my femininity, my ownership to my body. Some girls, including my half-sister who died from complications from being cut, even lose their lives. When I was 15 and I got married and I was unable to have sex it was like I went over FGM all over again, because when they cut you open, even though this initially happened to me as a baby, but the re-opening process was just them cutting me again.”

The World Health Organization denotes the practice as not having any health benefits, and the organization explains that it actually carries a whole milieu of risks, including infertility, urinary tract infections and cysts, among other evils, such as personal mental and emotional trauma.

 

Although the practice was outlawed from the United States in 1996, Dukureh and other women in this country understand FGM to still be in practice. Alarmingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 1997 alone, an estimated 168,000 women and girls either endured or were at risk for FGM, while the Sanctuary for Families says the number of women and girls at risk increased by 35 percent between 1990 and 2000.

 

Dukureh fights to erase the assumption that this practice can only take place in African or Middle Eastern countries. She adds:

‘These young women are your average American teenagers — some of them you know, some of them you went or go to school with,’ she says. ‘And there are many more girls in the US that are at risk of being cut.’

 

Although the Obama administration did sign the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act in 2013 — which makes it illegal to take girls out of the country for FGM — there are not recent statistics on the number of victims and those at risk. Dukureh wants progress to be made on this issue, and her petition has garnered countless signatures as well as support from Congressman Joe Crowley, United Nations Representative Nafissatou Diop, and “Guardian” Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger.

 

What do you think of this kind of torture taking place in the United States today? Will you sign Jaha Dukureh’s petition to the Obama Administration? Share your thoughts in the comments or tweet me @Kelseymbro