The number of women and girls at risk for female genital mutilation (FGM) in the United States has more than doubled in the past 10 years, according to new figures released on Friday.
The data, the first on FGM in the U.S. for a decade, is being published to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM.
More than half a million women and girls in the U.S. are at risk of undergoing FGM in the U.S. or abroad, or have already undergone the procedure, including 166,173 under the age of 18, according to the Population Reference Bureau(PRB). Immigration to the U.S. from African and Middle Eastern countries—where the practice of FGM is a deeply entrenched cultural tradition—is the sole factor for the rise in numbers, says Mark Mather, a demographer at PRB who led the data analysis. There has not been an increase in the practice happening in the U.S. itself, he says.