Wearing a red hijab and a long skirt, a woman pushed her year-old daughter in a stroller to a gate at Newark Liberty International Airport last week. After her boarding pass was scanned, a federal agent approached her and asked where she was traveling.
Ethiopia, she told him. He directed her to a colleague who told the woman she wanted to talk to her about female genital cutting, a ritual that is outlawed in the United States but still considered a rite of passage in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The passenger said she knew the subject well. "I did as a child," she answered softly. "I was 6. I know what it is."
The woman, who told agents she plans to start nursing school in Minnesota next month, said she had no intention to do it to her daughter.