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Why do countries practice female genital mutilation?

Published: Apr. 17, 2017 at 11:03 AM EDT
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A Detroit emergency room

last week for mutilating the genitalia of two 7- year old girls.

According to the United Nation's Children Fund (UNCIEF), 200 million girls and women in 30 countries have undergone female genital mutilation.

A stat Devan Stahl, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ethics at Michigan State University, is all too familiar with.

"It's something that is practiced across the world in over 30 countries, but here in the United States it's not part of our cultural practice," Stahl said.

Prof. Stahl says female genital mutilation, or FGM, goes by names such as female cutting or female circumcision and is performed early in childhood.

"It general involves cutting off female genital at an early age and is considered part of a purity ritual or a cleansing ritual," Stahl adds. "In some countries, it's considered the norm."

But in America, Prof. Stahl says FGM is illegal.

"Michigan doesn't have a state law prohibiting FGM, she said." This is something that even if parents were okay with, it would still be illegal."

The United Nations Population Fund says it can cause the formation of cysts and abscesses, can damage the urethra, and can cause sexual dysfunction.