WASHINGTON – Feb. 6 is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation to raise awareness of the harm it causes to women, girls, and societies worldwide.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI are joining with U.S. and foreign government partners, non-governmental organizations and local communities in calling for the eradication of female genital mutilation and cutting.
Female genital mutilation/cutting is a federal crime. Any involvement in committing this crime is a serious human rights violation which may result in imprisonment and potential removal from the U.S. Individuals suspected of female genital mutilation/cutting, including sending girls overseas to be cut, may be investigated by the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center and prosecuted accordingly.
The elimination of female genital mutilation/cutting is an important U.S. foreign policy priority with broad implications for the health and human rights of women and girls, as well as societies at large.
This day serves as a time to reflect on victims who have suffered from female genital mutilation/cutting, including many women and girls who have died or suffered lifelong health complications from the practice.
The International Day of Zero Tolerance was started in 2003, when the first lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, officially declared “Zero Tolerance to FGM” in Africa during a conference organized by the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children.
Female genital mutilation/cutting prevalence is primarily concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, but also occurs in parts of Asia, Latin America, Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. It is global in scope and found in multiple geographies, religions, and socioeconomic classes.
Anyone who has information about an individual who is suspected of assisting in this crime is urged to call the toll-free ICE tip line at (866) 347-2423 or complete the ICE online tip form or the FBI online tip form. All are staffed around the clock, and tips may be provided anonymously.
For more information about the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting, view this video from the U.S. Department of State or visit the United Nations’ Zero Tolerance Day website. Also visit the Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health website for more information about 2017 grant opportunities for nongovernmental organizations which address health care or prevention services for victims of female genital mutilation/cutting in the U.S.