Sudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone.
Those African nations are notoriously associated with the gruesome ritual of female genital mutilation—but it also occurs in the U.S. where an alarming number of women and girls are subjected to such torture that Immigration and Customs Enforcement pledges to stop, according to an announcement Monday.
It’s estimated more than 500,000 women and girls in the U.S. are either victims of female genital mutilation or are at risk of being subjected to it.
ICE is teaming up with Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation International Human Rights Unit and the Department of Justice Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section to combat the crime, which is up threefold since 1990, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
ICE and the other agencies are ramping up efforts to identify girls at risk and investigating those who perpetrate female genital mutilation, the agency said.
This year, ICE carried out Operation Limelight USA at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. Agents in June and August alerted 460 individuals on flights to and from countries with a high prevalence rate of female genital mutilation of a tip line to report this practice and the federal laws prohibiting it. The agency also is working with the FBI to investigate crimes.