As we embark into 2019, we must keep talking about the horrific practice of genital cutting, known as FGM. FGM, short for “female genital mutilation,” is a brutal cultural practice across various traditions. Over time, that practice crept onto the back of some faith traditions.
This is a fight that has to be led by survivors, with all others supporting the voices of these brave women.
Clarion Project spoke with Kadi Doumbia, a survivor and activist who is helping lead the fight against FGM in the United States. In a phone call, Kadi shared her powerful message against genital cutting:
“My name is Kadi Doumbia. I am from Mali, West Africa. Female genital mutilation happened to me when I was five years old or a little less than five. I don’t really remember the actual cutting because I was so young.
“I am 55 years old now. I have my own children; I have two girls, they are young women.
“Due to what happened to me, I have been affected psychologically and emotionally.
“I have decided I was not going to put my children through FGM. I don’t wish FGM to happen to any kid, any child in this world. FGM is bad for children and it is bad for women’s health. There is no point running around and going after children and cutting their clitoris. For what? I don’t understand.
“What happened in Detroit with the charges dismissed against the people who did this horrific thing to children in the U.S….I don’t understand. Child abuse is a crime. It’s a crime in the U.S. And I don’t understand why FGM is not. FGM is not a crime? When you slap a child, when you abuse a child, it is a crime. It is a federal law in the U.S. that you do not abuse a child. But you can go around and take a child and open her legs…take a girl, a defenseless little girl, open her legs and cut her legs, and cut her clitoris but it’s not child abuse. You do not get charged. [Deep sigh] I don’t get it.
“Something needs to be done. FGM needs to stop. We are in the U.S. I am an immigrant and I’m not against immigrants. My entire family believes in FGM. All of my siblings…14 of us, all of us, went through FGM. My entire family went through FGM. That doesn’t mean I have to bring it here in the U.S. to cut my children — no. No.
“FGM is a crime regardless of how you see it. It is a crime. Taking her child, opening her legs and cut her clitoris is an abuse. Whoever does this needs to be charged. Thank you.”
In 2018, anti-FGM activists lost a major battle in the first U.S. case against FGM when a Michigan state court failed to rule against the practice in a suit involving Dr. Jumana Nagarwala. However, the war against FGM is not lost, and survivors and activists are keen to keep the pressure on. The spotlight on FGM has slowly gained national attention with more efforts made to pass state-based laws banning the practice. The loosely-knit coalition of activists coming forward globally has also given more courage to survivors to speak up.