Thousands of Canadian girls are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM), government officials have told the Toronto Star.
Some are being taken overseas against their will to have the procedure done in what is known as "vacation cutting."
A Global Affairs spokesperson told the Star she could not say how many cases her ministry has dealt with in recent years because they "do not have a specific category to track cases of (FGM)" and they do not have up-to-date statistics on how many girls are at risk.
The official added that it can be very difficult for victims of FGM to report their own families because of threats or fears that they might never see their parents or siblings again.
Officials say some of the girls "have been severely beaten and/or sexually abused by family members prior to (FGM), sometimes due to the girl's attempt to contact authorities for assistance."
FGM is reportedly practiced in 29 countries, mainly in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Islam teaches that "circumcision is obligatory" for men and women and, in the case of women, it usually means the removal or partial removal of the clitoris.
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 5:75 says 'Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honor for women.'"
A Michigan doctor was recently charged with carrying out FGM on up to 100 young girls.