Immigrant Health Care

Female Genital Mutilation Is A U.S. Problem, Too

Jul 22, 2015

Female genital mutilation seems like something that happens over there. Not in the United States. But in Africa, in the Middle East, in Asia.

That's not the case.

More than half a million girls now living in the U.S. are considered at risk for female genital mutilation. The procedure can range in severity from removing or cutting the clitoris — a sexual organ primarily responsible for female sexual pleasure — to sewing the vagina shut.

Son and mother featured in the story
Alex Smith / KCUR

It’s always a struggle to resettle in a new country, but for Bhutanese refugees, the challenge has been especially difficult. Bhutan, a largely Buddhist country, is known for having created a ‘national happiness index,’ but it has also forced out many of its ethnically Nepali, mostly Hindu, population. Since arriving in the United States, many of these refugees have suffered serious mental health issues.

Jason Eppink/Flickr

 To most patients in the U.S., the way Dr. P.J. Parmar runs his primary care clinic for refugees in Aurora, Colo. may seem strange: "When a patient walks into the clinic and has been here before...my goal is for them to walk right into the front door, walk right into my office and sit down next to me without stopping." Parmar tells Sound Medicine how he tries to make life easier for his patients, many of whom are not from the U.S. and face linguistic and cultural barriers to care. 

 

Pages