3 Survivors Reveal The Brutal Reality Of Female Genital Mutilation

3 Survivors Reveal The Brutal Reality Of Female Genital Mutilation
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NAROK, KENYA - DECEMBER 25: Lato Caroline Gilisho, 17, sobs after recalling her story inside a dormroom at the Tasaru Safehouse for Girls December 25, 2006 in Narok, Kenya. The Tasaru Safehouse supports board, lodging and education of young Maasai girls from preteens to late teens who seek refuge from female circumcision and early marriage. In 2001, the Kenyan government passed the Children's Act which highlights the right of a child to receive an education. It also issues a ban on what is now referred to as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriage (below 18 years). News of the recent law and the conviction to conform with the changing belief system has not reached many in the rural and remote areas of the Rift Valley. Caroline went to the center at the age of thirteen to escape an arranged marriage. Instead of using the money given to her for groceries and supplies for the ceremony, she used it to pay for her fare to Narok. She is currently in her last year of school and serves as a class prefect. While inherently bright, she is also a hardworker. Caro, as her friends call her, wakes up at around 3:30 in the morning during school holidays to study. Her parents continue to refuse her despite numerous interventions by Tasaru counselors. One counselor recalled Caro saying that after she finishes school and becomes an important leader in the community, she will drive back to her village in her own car to visit her parents. Although rejected by her own family, Caro harbors no ill will towards them. She continues to value her Maasai roots though feels strongly against FGM and early marriage. She hopes to one day go back to her community and serve as a positive influence for a younger generation of girls. (Photo by Marvi Lacar/Getty Images)
NAROK, KENYA - DECEMBER 25: Lato Caroline Gilisho, 17, sobs after recalling her story inside a dormroom at the Tasaru Safehouse for Girls December 25, 2006 in Narok, Kenya. The Tasaru Safehouse supports board, lodging and education of young Maasai girls from preteens to late teens who seek refuge from female circumcision and early marriage. In 2001, the Kenyan government passed the Children's Act which highlights the right of a child to receive an education. It also issues a ban on what is now referred to as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriage (below 18 years). News of the recent law and the conviction to conform with the changing belief system has not reached many in the rural and remote areas of the Rift Valley. Caroline went to the center at the age of thirteen to escape an arranged marriage. Instead of using the money given to her for groceries and supplies for the ceremony, she used it to pay for her fare to Narok. She is currently in her last year of school and serves as a class prefect. While inherently bright, she is also a hardworker. Caro, as her friends call her, wakes up at around 3:30 in the morning during school holidays to study. Her parents continue to refuse her despite numerous interventions by Tasaru counselors. One counselor recalled Caro saying that after she finishes school and becomes an important leader in the community, she will drive back to her village in her own car to visit her parents. Although rejected by her own family, Caro harbors no ill will towards them. She continues to value her Maasai roots though feels strongly against FGM and early marriage. She hopes to one day go back to her community and serve as a positive influence for a younger generation of girls. (Photo by Marvi Lacar/Getty Images)

During the summer months, while many families take vacations or usher their children off to camp, thousands of girls here in the U.S. are being sent overseas for what’s sold to them as a “rite of passage.”

According to the AHA Foundation, up to 228,000 girls and women in the U.S. are vulnerable to what’s called “vacation cutting,” when parents send their daughters to stay with their families abroad and to endure female genital mutilation (FGM). Even more women living here have been victims as children. Before immigrating to the U.S., they were subjected to the abuse that affects 125 million females worldwide.

Before You Go

29. Uganda 1%

Countries With The Most Genital Mutilation (By Percentage)