In the 2010 Chevy Chase short film “Hotel Hell Vacation,” Clark Griswold plans a surprise side trip for his wife, Ellen. They arrive at the humorously named, Grand Connard Hotel with a series of calamities destined to ruin their vacation. The detour turns into a vacation from hell, with typical funny scenes and classic one liners in the 14-minute film that premiered during Super Bowl XLIV.
This year, a real vacation detour is playing out around the globe with nothing in common with Chevy Chase—except the title.
And there’s nothing funny about it.
Thousands of little girls are traveling abroad with their mothers and headed to the ancestral home for a “vacation.” However, the mothers of these unsuspecting little girls are arranging a planned detour to visit a cutter who will perform female genital mutilation. Criminal law condemns this practice as “vacation cutting.” These children will forever remember the trauma and pain of their vacation from hell.
The UK Independent reports that the British National FGM Centre is warning that parents are planning covert vacations to Africa and the Middle East for their little girls during the holiday so that female genital mutilation can be performed by relatives in their home of origin. This alarming notice is prompted by a huge uptick in more than 1,000 new cases of FGM recorded in three months. Overall, in England and Wales, more than 137,000 girls and women are affected by female genital mutilation.
The barbaric FGM procedure condemned by the World Health Organization and the United Nations as a human rights violation remains a highly secretive and covert practice, despite its illegality in England and in 59 countries around the world, including the U.S.
The exploding refugee migration in the United States has brought along the practice of female genital mutilation according to the Center for Disease Control. The CDC estimates that over 500,000 women and girls in the United States are at risk of FGM. The pattern unfolding in the UK is replicated in the United States, with incidents of FGM tripling in America since 1990.New York, California and Minnesota are listed in the top-tier states at FGM risk.
This exponential growth of FGM in the United States is reflected in a movement of legislative and strategic initiatives. In 1996, Congress criminalized female genital mutilation under federal law and is poised to triple the penalties as the Senate considers a newly and unanimously passed House bill, which increases FGM penalties from 5 to 15 years of imprisonment. The first federal FGM prosecution is ongoing in Detroit, where a Dawoodi Bohra doctor was indicted with multiple charges related to performing FGM on little girls.
As for the hideous crime of “FGM vacation cutting,” which criminalizes individuals who take children abroad for the purposes of female genital mutilation, the U.S. government has initiated Operation Limelight USA, a pilot project at New York’s JFK International Airport to bring awareness to FGM and to deter its practice through training and outreach. This partnership of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) and the New York Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST) is modeled after the UK program at Heathrow Airport.
As England goes, so goes the United States. The sobering and startling FGM reality is here and growing in the U.S. Children need and deserve not only the commitment of law enforcement, but of all Americans to expose, root out and report FGM to law enforcement and child protection services. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has an FGM-dedicated hotline (800-CALL-FBI or www.FBI.gov/FGM), and counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453).
It’s time to end this vacation from hell.