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ICE Launches Program Targeting Female Genital Mutilation

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ICE has launched an outreach program targeting female genital mutilation (FGM) at JFK Airport to safeguard young women from the outlawed practice, according to an ICE news release.

The pilot program, called “Operation Limelight USA,” aims to “Safeguard and prevent young girls from being subjected to FGM by informing passengers travelling to high-prevalence countries about the U.S. laws governing FGM and the potential criminal, immigration, and child protective consequences of transporting a child to another country for the purposes of FGM,” according to ICE.

Special Agent Angel M. Melendez describeed FGM as an “intrusive and unnecessary practice against young girls” and said that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) will work with ICE to “arrest and prosecute anyone looking to perform this act or transport young girls for such a nefarious procedure.”

FGM is historically practiced to keep young women from losing their virginity, reducing sexual desire, and lessening temptation to have extramarital sex.

Osten-Sacken and Were say that many Muslim academics claim it is not a religious problem but rather a cultural problem, despite research concluding that those who commit the practice believe it to be “religiously mandated.”

The program seeks funding to expand into additional airports identified as serving the largest FGM-prevalent communities.

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