WASHINGTON, DC – Jaha Dukureh, a 24-year-old survivor of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), today will ask the Obama administration to develop a plan to end FGM in the United States.
Dukureh is an advocate for other women who have experienced FGM. She launched a Change.org petition to end the practice and 200,000-plus people have joined.
“I’m taking my fight to Washington, DC to call on the Obama Administration to do more to end female genital mutilation in the US – starting by conducting the first FGM prevalence study in this country since the 1990s,” said Dukureh.
“I am honored to receive the support of members of Congress like Representatives Joseph Crowley and Sheila Jackson Lee. I’m here in DC to send a clear message that we will not be ignored, and we will not back down.”
Dukureh went through FGM as an infant growing up in the Gambia, where her half-sister died of complications from being cut. At the age of 15, she moved to New York and was forced into marriage. Able to escape through the help of local human rights organizations, she now resides in Atlanta with her husband and three children.
Dukureh, Rep. Crowley and Rep. Lee will discuss the Change.org petition to the Obama Administration today (June 11th at the Longworth House Office Building.
According to the World Health Organization, FGM includes “procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” that can cause a range of severe health consequences.
Dukureh says she has heard from numerous women across the U.S. who have experienced what is referred to as “vacation cutting,” where girls are sent to other countries to undergo FGM – despite legislation passed in January 2013 aimed to curb the practice.
No comprehensive research on the prevalence of FGM in the U.S. has been conducted since 1997, which is why Dukureh is petitioning the Obama administration, and specifically the Department of Health and Human Services, to survey the scope of the domestic problem, to develop a plan to end FGM, and to help those living with it in the US.
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has endorsed Jaha’s campaign as have a prominent imam, The Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, and celebrities such as Susan Sarandon, Robin Wright and Paula Abdul.
(Live signature totals from Jaha Dukureh’s campaign: