While illegal in the U.S, FGM (female genital mutilation), or female circumcision, is a horror that affects hundreds of thousands of Muslim girls. It’s a ritual involving the cutting of some or all of the external female genitalia and is considered a form of gender-based violence as well as recognized as a clear human rights violation. Not only is FGM (female genital mutilation) illegal within the United States, but sending girls abroad to undergo FGM, also known as “cutting holidays” or “vacation cutting,” is illegal as well. However, despite its illegality, many U.S. citizens face the brutality of being cut.
“Spoons have taken on a whole new meaning”
Most people don’t think twice about the spoon. It’s just an average utensil helping people consume food. However for thousands of girls, spoons have taken on a whole new meaning and have saved hundreds of lives.
This is where the spoon comes in. While to some it may be just a standard utensil, to girls running from vacation cutting it can literally save their lives. Girls in danger of vacation cutting and also forced marriages, have been advised to tuck a spoon into their underwear in order to set off airport metal detectors. Once set off, the girl will be pulled aside by airport security and can then ask for help. A common issue with girls who face FGM (female genital mutilation) is that they have nowhere to turn. Thus, this method, as a last resort, allows for girls to be given a “safe space” and a voice.
“Sometimes they don’t know the fate that awaits…”
Unfortunately, not all girls are so lucky. Sometimes they don’t know the fate that awaits them until it’s too late. Hawa, a New Jersey resident, was subjected to vacation cutting at age 16. She was told by her parents they would be going to visit relatives from her parents’ homeland Senegal. Hawa was naturally very excited to meet her relatives and see where her parents came from.
When she arrived in Senegal, her relatives were very excited to see her and doted on her constantly. However, just three days after arrival, Hawa was locked in a room with 20 other girls. Each girl was tied down with ropes, legs spread, waiting to be cut. Hawa begged for mercy, but to no avail. She too was cut, while her aunts and grandmother watched and cheered, delighted by her “transformation into womanhood.”
“We must take a stand”
Hawa is just one of the many Americans who have been subjected to this illegal, barbaric ritual. We must take a stand and raise awareness, both in the United States and abroad, to ensure these hideous cuttings cease to exist.