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4 Am. U. J. Gender & L. 415 (1995-1996)
Female Genital Mutilation in the United States: An Examination of Criminal and Asylum Law

handle is hein.journals/ajgsp4 and id is 421 raw text is: FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION* IN THE
UNITED STATES: AN EXAMINATION OF
CRIMINAL AND ASYLUM LAW
LAYLI MILLER BAsHIR**
I. Introduction ................................                    416
II. A General Description of Female Genital Mutilation           ..  419
A. Defining Female Genital Mutilation and Its Effects.           420
B. Justifications for Female Genital Mutilation       ......     424
III. United States Criminal Treatment of Female Genital
Mutilation ..................................                    428
A. The Right to Outlaw Female Genital Mutilation ...             428
B. Attempts to Outlaw Female Genital Mutilation ....             430
1. State Laws ............................                  430
2. Federal Law    ...........................               432
C. The Potential Effectiveness of a Law Prohibiting
Female Genital Mutilation: An Examination of the
British Experience     ........................             433
IV. United States Asylum Law Response to Female Genital
Mutilation ..................................                    436
A. A Well-Founded Fear .......................                   439
B. Of Persecution      ...........................               441
C. By the State or a Force that State is Unwilling or
* Female genital mutilation is frequently and inaccurately referred to as female
circumcision. In 1990, the regional conference of the Inter-African Committee voted that
female circumcision did not accurately reflect the ritual practice and decided that it should
be called female genital mutilation. Marilyn Milos, NOCIRC NEWSLETTER, Fall 1993, at 2; see
also Letter from Dr. Elizabeth Bowen, Professor, Morehouse Medical School, to Layli Miller
Bashir (Aug. 1995) (on file with the American University Journal of Gender & the Law) (describing
the anatomical effects of the ritual practice as a form of mutilation, not circumcision). For an
in-depth discussion of the debate surrounding the proper terminology for the ritual see Hope
Lewis, Between Irva and Female Genital Mutilation. Feminist Human Rights Discourse and the
CulturalDivide, 8 HARV. HUM. RTS.J. 1, 4-9 (1995).
** J.D. candidate, Washington College of Law at the American University, 1996; MA.
candidate, School for International Service at the American University, 1996; BA, cum laude,
Agnes Scott College, 1993. I would like to thank my husband, Roshan M. Bashir-Elahi, for his
endless love, patience, encouragement, and support. Also, I would like to thank my parents,
Larry and Carole Miller, for their inspiration, love, and guidance. Most of all, I would like to
thank God, and the teachings of the Baha'i Faith, upon which all of my actions and aspirations
rely.

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