FBI Investigating Number of U.S. Leads on Illegal Female Genital Mutilation

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: May 19, 2016 12:00 PM
FBI Investigating Number of U.S. Leads on Illegal Female Genital Mutilation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently looking into a number of tips and leads regarding illegal, female genital mutilation in the United States. 

"More than 500,000 women and girls across the country—most of them living in metropolitan areas—are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation, a procedure that has long been practiced in many African and Middle Eastern countries as a cultural custom but has been illegal in the U.S. since 1996," the FBI posted on its website last week. "A report showing the number of women at risk was published in January by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the figure was much higher than previously estimated. A separate report last year by the non-profit Population Reference Bureau (PRB) determined that women and girls most at risk were concentrated in major cities like New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., where large diaspora immigrant communities have coalesced."

"The FBI is proactively investigating tips and leads on this illegal practice. Investigators are hoping victims and community members who are opposed to it will come forward and report cases."

According to those who engage in the practice female genital mutilation, which occurs in predominantly Muslim communities and neighborhoods, is justified because the practice is "deeply rooted" in religious practice and beliefs. The practice is conducted by both men and women in these communities. 

“We believe some of it is being conducted by medical practitioners—physicians, nurses, midwives—and some by female elders within the communities who have the distinction of being what is called a cutter,” Special Agent Kerry Sparks, who works in the FBI Human Rights Unit, said about the practice.

Tips about female genital mutilation can be submitted at tips.fbi.gov.