America’s Underground Female Genital Mutilation Crisis

Nina Strochlic – Daily Beast – Thursday, 12 June 2014 (originally 11 Jun)

 Jaha Dukureh
Image:Robin Rayne Nelson/

As a one-week-old baby, Jaha Dukureh was circumcised—just as women in her family had been for generations in their home country of Gambia. Fifteen years later, when she was brought to the United States for an arranged marriage, she was taken to a New York City doctor who worked closely with African communities, in order to be “reopened” for her husband. “Now that I think back,” Dukureh remembers, “that’s what pisses me off. The fact that I was 15—you saw how young I was, you didn’t say anything, you didn’t do anything.”

As students across the country prepare for summer vacation, female genital mutilation (FGM) activists like Dukureh are gearing up for what they call “cutting season”—the summer months when young girls can be sent to their ancestral lands to be circumcised.

Now 24 years old and living in Atlanta with her second husband, Dukureh has made it her life work to ensure that young girls won’t go through the same practice that hurt her and killed her half-sister. On Wednesday, she arrived in Washington D.C. to testify in front of Congress, armed with thousands of signatures to demand the U.S. implement a nationwide program that trains authorities across all sectors—from education, to public health, to law enforcement—to watch for warning signs that girls might be pressured into the practice . . .

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