USCIS Statement on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation
On Feb. 6, the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services joins other U.S. government agencies and the international community in calling for an end to the practice of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C).
FGM/C refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
The United Nations reports that more than 200 million women and girls around the world have undergone some form of FGM/C. On Zero Tolerance Day, we are raising awareness about this practice, which is happening here in the United States in small towns and big cities alike. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates approximately 500,000 girls in the United States are at risk of having FGM/C performed on them.
FGM/C is a human rights violation and a form of child abuse, gender discrimination, and violence against women and girls. Committing FGM/C on children is a crime under federal law and in 40 states. Anyone who performs FGM/C on a woman 18 years old or older without her consent may be charged with a crime under other laws. People who commit this crime can face prison time and significant immigration consequences. We support ongoing efforts nationwide that uphold and enforce laws criminalizing FGM/C.
As the agency responsible for administering the legal immigration system, USCIS:
- Makes immigration benefits available to individuals who have survived or are at risk of FGM/C, including asylum and protections under the Violence Against Women Act;
- Ensures that those who perform or assist in FGM/C do not receive immigration benefits from which the law bars them;
- Plans and conducts specialized trainings for adjudicators likely to encounter persons who have undergone or are at risk of FGM/C; and
- Creates and maintains public education and outreach materials about the health, criminal, and immigration implications of FGM/C.
We continue to work with interagency partners to combat FGM/C and provide information about available resources to assist women and girls who have undergone or are at risk of FGM/C. We will continue to identify opportunities to #EndFGM in the United States and worldwide.