ICE Targets Female Genital Mutilation Through Operation Limelight USA

By Jonathan Mizrahi | June 26, 2018 | 8:38am EDT

( - Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is spearheading an effort to bring awareness to female genital mutilation with the launch of Operation Limelight USA.

The initiative, which began on June 19th at Newark International Airport, is designed to inform passengers traveling to countries that have a high risk for such practices as well as the potential criminal, immigration and child protective consequences of transporting a child to another country to perform female genital mutilation on that child.

This program was piloted last year at John F. Kennedy International Airport and was deemed “incredibly successful.”

Brett Dreyer, assistant special in charge, HSI Newark, and who led Operation Limelight at JFK, said, “Our aim here is three-fold regarding this brutal practice. Enforcement is a key piece here, but so is outreach and prevention. This is why we have partnered with other government agencies, NGOs and, most importantly, survivors and advocates from the community to share knowledge and resources so we may collectively end this practice.”

Dreyer will be leading Operation Limelight at Newark this year.

According to ICE, female genital mutilation “is a serious human rights violation, and a gender-specific form of child abuse.”

“This harmful traditional practice negatively affects millions of women and girls around the world, and is concentrated in thirty-one countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East,” ICE stated on its website.

Female genital mutilation is either specifically outlawed or falls under child abuse statutes in the United States.

However, in April 2017, a Detroit emergency room physician was arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation on girls six to eight years old. This is the first case in the United States of an individual facing prosecution for female genital mutilation.


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