“Yes, it’s a cultural issue but I’m from this culture and I am saying, this is not to our benefit. This is abuse.” -Jaha Dukureh
Jaha Dukureh underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) as a child in Gambia. After her mother died of cancer, Jaha was sent to New York to marry a man in his forties. She was only fifteen. Around the same time, she found out she had undergone Type 3 FGM, the most severe version of the procedure, where the clitoris and labia are removed entirely before the person gets stitched, leaving a tiny hole to (barely) urinate and menstruate. This level of detail might make people uncomfortable, and that is the point. This should not be happening to anyone. Jaha ended up parting ways with her first husband, put herself through school, and started an organization called “Safe Hands for Girls”. Jaha is set on ending FGM, while providing support to women and girls who have survived the practice and addressing its lifelong, harmful physical and psychological consequences.
Right now, there are over half a million girls and women in the United States who have survived female genital mutilation (FGM). Around the world, the number of impacted women is over 200 million. It is a common misconception that FGM is similar to circumcision. Male circumcision entails the removal of foreskin, whereas FGM entails the partial or complete removal of the external female organs.