Effects of female genital mutilation analyzed


Two New York psychologists claim that many of the hundreds of thousands of American girls who have endured genital mutilation will experience segregation from their peers in mainstream American society.

The issue began being publicly addressed in March by the Trump administration which announced a new national campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM), a common practice in certain immigrant communities.

According to Adeyinka M. Akinsulure-Smith and Evangeline I. Sicalides, authors of “Female Genital Cutting in the United States: Implications for Mental Health Professionals,” genital cutting by immigrant parents “sets these [American victims] apart from the mainstream culture and may complicate their efforts to adjust to life in the United States and cause intergenerational conflict in some families.”

In the article, published in the October 2016 issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, the authors contend that immigrant “parents may consider it important for their [American] daughters to be cut, regardless of the girls’ wishes, as a way to maintain their identity with the family and its [foreign] cultural community of origin. Others may want the girls in their family to undergo FGC as a way to protect them from aspects of American culture.”

A Breitbart report notes that “[f]emale genital cutting (FGC) and female circumcision (FC) are politically correct terms for the practice of female genital mutilation.” The process removes part or all of the clitoris, or even all of the external genitalia, in female infants, children or adults. The practice is widespread in Islamic northern Africa, where the most radical versions of the process are inflicted in Somalia. In many cases, the damaged woman is made unable to provide genital lubrication, which is deemed sexually distasteful in some communities that practice FGM.”

Authorities within the Department of Justice and the FBI have pledged to end the practice of FGM, and have already arrested a group of Muslim doctors in Detroit for performing the procedure on American girls. “The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law,” said the acting U.S. Attorney in Detroit, Daniel Lemisch.

Growth in immigration in the United States has led to a sharp rise in the number of women and girls who are affected by FGC—approximately 513,000 females are either at risk of FGM or have already undergone the procedure, an estimate that is more than two times the 228,000 noted in 2000 and three times more than the 1990 estimate of 168,000, established by the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO contends that FGM has “no health benefits, only harm.” Following an FGM procedure, the victim can experience severe pain, excessive bleeding, fever, infections, shock, and even death. Difficulties that might be encountered in the long term include urinary problems, sexual and childbirth complications, and psychological issues.

Breitbart reports that the psychologists who wrote the article “are not political activists seeking to reduce and protect the practice as it spreads by immigration into Western Europe and the United States. Instead, they are therapists who help other experts deal with the after-effects of the imported practice.”

The authors assert, “[I]t is our professional and ethical responsibility to be informed about this cultural practice, and to possess the awareness, knowledge, and skills to intervene.”

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