(July 2015) Two major news outlets have highlighted PRB’s data analysis on women and girls in the U.S. at risk of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C).
The ABC News piece, “Underground in America: Female Genital Mutilation,” quotes PRB’s figures revealing that 500,000+ women and girls are at risk of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in the United States—more than twice the number of women and girls estimated to be at risk in 2000.
Mark Mather, a co-author on the PRB article and associate vice president of U.S. Programs, told ABC News: “There haven’t been new numbers made available for more than a decade. We knew the immigrant population had grown considerably over the past 10 years, so for a population changing so rapidly, it’s important not to wait to get more updated estimates.”
FGM/C is illegal in the United States. PRB looked at immigrant families coming from countries with a high prevalence rate of FGM/C, including places where 80 percent to 90 percent of women undergo the procedure. So the rapid increase in women and girls at risk reflects an increase in immigration from these countries—or daughters with parents from those countries—to the United States, rather than an increase in the share of women and girls at risk of being cut.
Advocates warn that the risk of FGM/C can go up during summer months—”vacation cutting”—when girls often travel back to their home countries, particularly in Africa, to visit family. PBS NewsHour cited the PRB data analysis, underscoring the risk of FGM/C being a particular concern in New York, which has the largest population of African immigrants in the country. In 2013, about 97 percent of U.S. women and girls at risk were from African countries, while just 3 percent were from Asia (Iraq and Yemen).