More than 130 million women worldwide have undergone female genital cutting (FGC). Currently, in the United States (U.S.), more than 228,000 women and girls are estimated to be with or at risk for FGC. This represents a significant increase from the 168,000 females who were reported to have undergone or be at risk for FGC in the 1990s.
In March 1997, FGC became a federal crime in the U.S. Racial and ethnic demographics in America are rapidly shifting. Escaping from famine, war and political instability, immigrants and refugees are entering the U.S. in higher numbers than ever before. Because of this recent influx, practitioners are increasingly seeing women who have undergone FGC and have little understanding of the health and cultural issues surrounding this practice.
Education is the cornerstone of change. In order to change the attitudes of this practice, people must understand the reasons to stop. The AWHC is committed to stopping this practice through education, collaboration and outreach. The three areas to be targeted are:
- Educate African immigrants and refugees regarding the harmful effects of FGC.
- Educate health providers in North American and Europe on how to provide culturally competent care.
- Re-educate the general public through media without sensationalizing the issue.
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