The imported practice of genital mutilation can segregate hundreds of thousands of American girls from their peers in mainstream American society, say two New York psychologists.
The hidden segregation, however, is being ended by President Donald Trump and his deputies, who announced mid-March a new national campaign against “Female Genital Mutilation” that is commonplace in some immigrant communities.
Genital cutting by immigrant parents “sets these [American victims] apart from the mainstream culture and may complicate their efforts to adjust to life in the United States and cause intergenerational conflict in some families,” according to Adeyinka M. Akinsulure-Smith and Evangeline I. Sicalides, the authors of “Female Genital Cutting in the United States: Implications for Mental Health Professionals.”
Immigrant “parents may consider it important for their [American] daughters to be cut, regardless of the girls’ wishes, as a way to maintain their identity with the family and its [foreign] cultural community of origin. Others may want the girls in their family to undergo FGC as a way to protect them from aspects of American culture,” according to their article published in the October 2016 issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.
Female genital cutting (FGC) and female circumcision (FC) are politically correct terms for the practice of “Female Genital Mutilation.” The process removes part or all of the clitoris, or even all of the external genitalia, in female infants, children or adults. The practice is widespread in Islamic northern Africa, where the most radical versions of the process are inflicted in Somalia. In many cases, the damaged woman is made unable to provide genital lubrication, which is deemed sexually distasteful in some communities that practice FGM.
FGM is in the news because Trump’s deputies at the Department of Justice and the FBI have promised to end the practice — and have already arrested a group of Muslim doctors in Detroit for performing FGM on several American girls. “The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law,” said the acting U.S. Attorney in Detroit, Daniel Lemisch.
Trump’s effort to save hundreds of thousands of Americans girls from the peculiar institution replaces the say-nothing, see-nothing policy of the pro-immigration, pro-multicultural policy imposed by former President Barack Obama.
The two New York psychologists are not political activists seeking to reduce and protect the practice as it spreads by immigration into Western Europe and the United States. Instead, they are therapists who help other experts deal with the after-effects of the imported practice.
“[I]t is our professional and ethical responsibility to be informed about this cultural practice, and to possess the awareness, knowledge, and skills to intervene,” the psychologists say.
The psychologists’ primary concern is that females who have been cut may become patients of U.S. healthcare providers who have no awareness or acceptance of the immigrant practice and may bring “unexamined opinions and attitudes” to their treatment of these females.
Their recommendation is that healthcare providers exempt themselves from the politics, and merely treat FGM as a medical issue. Providers should avoid “pathologizing the experiences of all girls and women who have undergone FGC,” while also familiarizing themselves with the legal issues and physical and psychological complications associated with the procedure, they wrote.
“A thorough understanding of these factors is fundamental to promoting appropriate care for those who have had FGC and for developing effective interventions to prevent new FGC cases in the United States where the practice is illegal,” the authors write.