Help Stop Female Genital Mutilation

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is practiced in many forms:

- Sunna circumcision in which the tip of the clitoris and/or its covering (prepuce) are removed.
- Clitoridectomy where the entire clitoris, the prepuce and the adjacent labia are removed.
- Infibulation (a.k.a. Pharaonic circumcision) which is a clitoridectomy followed by sewing up of the vulva. A small opening is left to allow urine and menstrual blood to pass. A second operation is done later in life to reverse some of the damage. In some cultures, the woman is cut open by her husband on their wedding night with a double edged dagger. She may be sewn up again if her husband leaves on a long trip.

Because of poverty and lack of medical facilities, the procedure is frequently done under less than hygienic conditions, and often without anesthetic by other than medically trained personnel. Anesthesia is rarely used. Razor blades, knives or scissors are usually the instruments used. In the rural Mossi areas of Burkina Faso, group female circumcisions are scheduled every three years in many villages. Girls aged from 5 to 8 are assembled by their mothers into groups of up to 20. The circumcision "uses a knife-like instrument, the barga, reserved specifically for this purpose; after each operation she simply wipes the knife on a piece of cloth, sometimes rinsing it in water first." In some areas of Africa, FGM is delayed until two months before a woman gives birth. This practice is based on the belief that the baby will die if she/he comes into contact with their mother's clitoris during birth. We are unaware of any medical evidence to support this belief.

Side effects of the operation can include: hemorrhage, shock, painful scars, keloid formation, labial adherences, clitoral cysts, chronic urinary infection, and chronic pelvic infections. Later in life, it can cause kidney stones, sterility, sexual dysfunction, depression, and various gynecological and obstetric problems.

- From the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance website (http://www.religioustolerance.org/)

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We, the citizens of the United States of America, in solidarity with our suffering sisters throughout the world, demand effective and immediate action from the President of the United States and the United States Congress to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM is gravely immoral and flies in the face of the liberating spirit of America. As we would protect our American sisters, we must now protect our sisters abroad. This violent subjugation and mutilation, this horrendous act of terrorism against women everywhere must come to an end.

Therefore, we, the people of the United States, demand that the President work with Congress to enact and enforce effective legislation to bring down this global act of misogynistic terrorism. Furthermore, we demand that the State Department bring this matter before the United Nations, making it an issue that the international community cannot ignore. We, the self-governing citizens of America, will settle for nothing less.