Alaska and Hawaii Must Join Other States to Protect Girls from Female Genital Mutilation
EndFGMToday Urges Lawmakers to Champion Legislation for 2020 Sessions
October 15, 2019
Washington, D.C.—Alaska and Hawaii may have been the last two states to become part of America, but they don’t have to be the last to protect girls from the horrific crime of female genital mutilation (FGM).
This year, the national EndFGMToday campaign has celebrated the fact that several more states have enacted their own FGM criminalization laws. In total, 35 states now protect their female residents from this barbaric and unnecessary procedure. However, 15 additional states—including Alaska and Hawaii—do not have laws in place, thereby allowing FGM perpetrators to go unpunished.
Hawaii lawmakers had been introduced to Bill No. 132, but the State House adjourned before any action was taken and the bill died before any committee hearings were set. Reps. Rida Cabanilla Arakawa (D), Mark Hashem (D), Bob McDermott (R) and Gene Ward (R) had sponsored the bi-partisan bill.
Likewise, in Alaska, HB 245, introduced in 2017 by Rep. David Eastman, died in committee and went nowhere in the effort to protect women and girls.
“Advocates fighting for girls and women who are emotionally and physically scarred by female genital mutilation have asserted over and over again that state criminalization laws are all the more crucial now after a judge in Michigan ruled last year that the federal FGM law was unconstitutional,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “A positive development is that two new federal companion bills have been introduced that would criminalize FGM nationwide again. Until then, however, it’s up to states to enact their own laws, not only to protect girls, but to give state prosecutors the resources they need to effectively carry out justice against the perpetrators of this heinous form of child abuse.”
Besides Alaska and Hawaii, states without laws against female genital mutilation also include: Alabama, Connecticut, 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.