Last month, Jaha Dukureh held the hand of a pregnant 17-year-old girl as she went through a particularly painful experience in the delivery room. Dukureh supported the girl after she fled an arranged marriage.
“I was looking at the doctors just because they are looking at her, they know something happened to her, but they didn’t say anything about it.”
Like Dukureh herself, the soon-to-be mother was a survivor of female genital mutilation – but none of the doctors or nurses assisting in her birth inquired about that.
She said she wanted to say to the people in the hospital, “This girl almost died because of this and you guys are just looking at it as if it’s culture. She’s [a minor] and you’re not even asking…why this happened to this girl when FGM is illegal in this country.”
“That bothers me,” Dukureh said in a phone interview with ThinkProgress. “FGM needs to be looked at as child abuse.”
The 25-year-old founded Safe Hands for Girls to advocate for greater awareness and more stringent laws around FGM. She’s working to make sure that the same sort of requirements for reporting child abuse apply to female genital mutilation, a form of gender-based violence which is increasingly common in the United States.
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