ICE, FBI Recognize International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
February 6 marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the FBI join U.S. and foreign government partners, non-governmental organizations, and local communities to call for the eradication of the practice.
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a federal crime, and 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 FGM/C, including sending girls overseas to be cut, may be investigated by the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center and prosecuted accordingly. In 2017, prosecutors brought the first criminal indictment under 18 U.S.C. § 116 based on a joint investigation conducted by the FBI and HSI. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, a U.S. citizen and Detroit-area doctor, was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for performing FGM/C on at least two 7-year old girls, although prosecutors estimate that she may have performed FGM/C on more than a hundred girls. Seven additional defendants have been subsequently charged with related crimes. All defendants are awaiting trial.
“Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a violation of the rights of women and girls that leaves lasting mental, emotional and physical scars,” said Chris Hacker, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Division. “The FBI’s work investigating human rights issues such as FGM/C is among the most important work we do, safeguarding children. We will continue to work with our partners at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protect vulnerable members of our community, and bring to justice those who have harmed young girls.”
“We continue to partner with the FBI, non-governmental organizations, and governmental partners both domestically and internationally to identify potential victims and those who conduct female genital mutilation,” explained unit chief Mark Shaffer, of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center. “If HSI can help prevent this from happening, it is a win for everyone.” The elimination of FGM/C has broad implications for the health and human rights of women and girls, as well as societies at large. This day serves as an opportunity 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 day also renews a global commitment to the health and well-being of all women, girls and communities by eliminating the practice.
FGM/C prevalence is primarily concentrated in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, but also occurs in parts of 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 Fact Sheet on FGM/C from the U.S. Department of State or visit the United Nations’ Zero Tolerance Day website.