Editor's Note: Some of the descriptive language in this post may disturb some readers.
A forthcoming study will determine how many women in the U.S. have undergone female genital mutilation and how many girls are at risk of having the procedure done to them.
FGM often occurs without anesthetic, and involves removing the clitoris and labia and sewing the area back together, leaving a small vaginal opening for urination.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced the study Tuesday, as an FGM summit was taking place in London. Cathy Russell, the U.S. ambassador for global women's issues, confirmed the study, according to the Guardian.
The U.S. campaign to end FGM is being led by Jaha Dukureh, whom the Washington Examiner profiled in May. Dukureh underwent the procedure a week after she was born, and has needed multiple surgeries since in order to correct problems caused by it.
“I am extremely delighted and happy that the U.S. has taken a stand for the thousands affected by this harmful practice,” Dukureh told the Examiner. “I came to the U.K. to stand with them and learn what we can do, not knowing that we were heard.”
“I am overjoyed,” she added.
FGM is conducted in 29 countries, and it is estimated that 125 million girls and women worldwide are living with the consequences.
The U.S. didn’t outlaw FGM until 1996, and in 2013, it passed a new law to forbid “vacation cutting,” a loophole that allowed American girls to be taken back to their home countries and operated on.
The Obama administration will also set up a “preliminary working group” focusing on FGM to determine how widespread the practice is in the U.S.
While this is a major win for activists, one must remember that the administration will have to be held accountable for the results of the study and working group.