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***News Release***


EndFGMToday Applauds Tennessee and North Dakota Legislators for Working on Tougher Female Genital Mutilation Laws

State Laws Are Even More Crucial After Federal Ban Was Struck Down

Washington, D.C.—Two states that already have laws to criminalize female genital mutilation (FGM) are working to make those measures tougher and extend the statute of limitations for survivors.

The national EndFGMToday campaign is applauding lawmakers in Tennessee and North Dakota for furthering additional legislation that will protect women and girls from FGM and punish the perpetrators of this brutal and unnecessary practice.

“The mutilation of little girls’ genitals defies all standards of humanity and cries out as a hideous violation of human rights, according to the United Nations and World Health Organization,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “The CDC estimates that 513,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation in the United States. Legislators in Tennessee and North Dakota realize this fact and are working to strengthen their laws even further to protect women and girls in their states.”

In Tennessee HB 1364, sponsored by Rep. Terri Weaver (R-40th District), unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee April 3 and heads next to the House floor. The bill, with a Senate companion of SB 1366, introduced by Sen. Joey Hensley (R-28th District) rewrites the criminal offense of female genital mutilation and extends the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions or civil actions for FGM.

The North Dakota bill, SB 2222, introduced by Sens. Janne Myrdal (R-10th District) and Joan Heckaman (D- NPL-23rd District), amends and reenacts a section of the North Dakota Century Code relating to FGM and provides a penalty. The measure has passed both chambers and is now in a conference committee.

The AHA Foundation, which also advocates for the protection of women and girls from FGM, as well as focuses on other women’s issues, has a grading system for states based on their commitment to ending FGM: A—Strong existing legislation, B—Adequate existing legislation, C—Existing legislation needs strengthening, D—Inadequate existing legislation needs strengthening, F—No anti-FGM legislation.

The Foundation gives both Tennessee and North Dakota a D grade for their current measures, which could change based on these new bills.

EndFGMToday has asserted many times that state laws criminalizing FGM are all the more crucial now, after a Michigan judge ruled that the federal FGM law was unconstitutional. In the process, serious charges against three alleged FGM perpetrators awaiting trial in Detroit were dismissed.

Yore also noted that female genital mutilation is recognized by both the World Health Organization and the United Nations as a human rights violation perpetrated upon little girls and women. Over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to this cruel practice.

View the state-by-state map of those who do have anti-FGM laws and learn more about FGM at www.EndFGMToday.com or on social media at #EndFGMToday.