(May 2015) PRB’s data analysis of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) was covered in a May 22, 2015, New York Times article, “FGM: A Modern-Day Scourge in the United States.” The article quotes the authors of the analysis, PRB’s Mark Mather, associate vice president of U.S. Programs, and Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs, associate vice president of International Programs. PRB released figures in February revealing that 507,000 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 (228,000). The topic continues to generate attention.

According to the PRB analysis, the rapid increase in women and girls at risk reflects an increase in immigration from countries with high prevalence rates of FGM/C—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. At the same time, the Times article describes the difficulty of getting a precise count of how many women have actually been cut—there is a reluctance to talk about it, in addition to privacy and legal issues. “Are you going to ask someone who lives in a country where FGM has been outlawed: ‘Have you cut your daughter?’” said Feldman-Jacobs. Mather said that such an estimate is “flat out impossible to do with the data we have. There are no national surveys…. All the data we have are hospital, clinical data, anecdotal evidence.”