Since the practice of female genital mutilation was outlawed by the United States in 1996, the federal-level crackdown has been swift and unforgiving. In the following decades, 22 states would add their own bans, and "vacation cutting," or taking minors abroad for the purpose of FGM, would be outlawed. But now, new numbers show that these measures have done little to stanch the skyrocketing rate at which girls are subjected to this cruel form of circumcision on our shores.
Data has been slow to come to the aid of American activists against FGM. It's been 25 years since the government released its first solid numbers on how many women may be subjected to the practice of genital mutilation in America. In 1997, the CDC estimated that 168,000 girls and women were at risk or had undergone FGM—at the time of the last national census in 1990. A few years later, in 2000, the African Women's Center upped the number at 227,000.
But according to estimates released on Friday, there currently are around 507,000 girls living in the U.S. who are either at risk of being cut or who have already been cut. That's more than triple the figure from the very first nationwide count.