WASHINGTON, April 3, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — April is national Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Today, the nonprofit Population Institute released a report on harmful gender-based practices in the U.S., including female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), femicide, and child marriage. “Behind Closed Doors: Exposing and Addressing Harmful Gender-Based Practices in the United States,” exposes abusive gender practices’ prevalence and deep roots in American culture. They aren’t “foreign” problems, but tragically embedded in American life. They occur “behind closed doors,” but on a surprisingly large scale, and demand recognition and redress. For example: 

  • The U.S. positions itself as a leader in combatting FGM/C abroad, yet more than 500,000 women and girls in the U.S. are at risk or have already undergone FGM/C. Nine states and Washington D.C. still do not have any laws against FGM/C. Of those that do, many fail to fully protect the vulnerable.
  • The U.S. has one of the highest rates of femicide among high-income countries: 2.2 per 100,000 women. Women in the U.S. are 28 times more likely to be intentionally murdered by guns than women in peer countries. A pending decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Rahimi stands to greatly exacerbate femicide risks by loosening a loophole that would allow people under domestic violence restraining orders to obtain guns.
  • An estimated 300,000 minors in the U.S. were married between 2000 and 2018, the vast majority underage girls. The Washington state and Virginia state legislatures just passed laws setting the minimum marriage age to 18 (though it’s unclear whether Governor Youngkin will sign Virginia’s law). They are only the 11th and 12th states to pass such laws. No states have laws against virginity testing, despite reports of U.S. physicians receiving requests for virginity tests, including before forced marriage.
  • Studies show gender-based harms disproportionately impact the LGBTQI+ community. In 2023 at least 510 anti-LGBTQI+ bills were introduced across the U.S. in 2023 which would make the problem even worse.

“To cast these gender-based harms as outside problems only is rooted in misguided American exceptionalism,” says report author, Population Institute’s Maniza Habib. “This is a major disservice. ‘Behind Closed Doors’ is a wake-up call urging us to confront the uncomfortable truth that harmful gender-based practices are a problem that involves us and our communities.” 

Habib and other experts are available for interviews.


Contact: Stephen Kent[email protected], 914-589-5988

SOURCE Population Institute

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