15 States Without Laws Against Female Genital Mutilation May Become Destinations for Perpetrators
EndFGMToday: All States Must Protect Women and Girls from This Heinous Practice with Legislation in 2020
Washington, D.C.—Sitcoms often depict storylines about couples in love who travel to a nearby state where they can wed quickly because they just can’t wait to be married.
Unfortunately, the same may be true of perpetrators of the heinous crime of female genital mutilation (FGM).
And there’s nothing funny about it.
But this could be exactly the case for the 15 states where there are no laws against the brutal and unnecessary practice of FGM, reports the national EndFGMToday campaign.
Since the federal law criminalizing FGM was ruled unconstitutional late last year, EndFGMToday has asserted many times that state laws criminalizing FGM are all the more crucial now. In November, a Michigan judge’s ruling resulted in serious charges being dismissed against three alleged FGM perpetrators who were awaiting trial in Detroit.
Earlier this summer, Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry introduced companion bills that would criminalize FGM nationwide. H.R. 3583, the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2019, and S. 2017 were introduced with the goal of rectifying the shortcomings in the previous federal law that led to the Michigan judge’s decision.
“But for now, it is up to states to protect women and girls from FGM,” said EndFGMToday leader, internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore. “While 35 states have enacted their own laws—some, the very toughest in the nation—15 states do not yet criminalize this terrible form of child abuse. It is well-known that FGM perpetrators will travel to other states, often under the cover of night, to have girls subjected to this horrible act. In fact, these nightmare ‘trips’ are referred to as ‘vacation cutting,’ and the girls as young as 4, 5 or 6 years old are unaware of the horrors about to be inflicted upon them.
“This is exactly why it’s imperative that every state have FGM criminalization laws on their books,” Yore added. “Quickly, these remaining 15 states will become known as places where FGM perpetrators can get away with this crime against children.”
The 15 states without FGM laws in place are: Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.
Yore also noted that female genital mutilation is recognized by both the World Health Organization and the United Nations as a human rights violation. Additionally, over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to this cruel practice, and the CDC estimates that more than 500,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation in the United States.