EndFGMToday Calls on North Carolina Lawmakers to Protect Girls from FGM As Soon As Possible
State Laws Criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation Are Even More Crucial After Federal Ban Was Struck Down
Washington, D.C.—Lawmakers in North Carolina have just a few days to take action on proposed legislation that will protect women and girls in the state from the horrific and barbaric procedure of female genital mutilation (FGM). The current portion of the legislative session ends June 30.
The national EndFGMToday campaign is calling on the state House of Representatives to make Senate Bill 9 a priority. SB 9 was introduced back in January by Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) “because we must protect our girls from this abuse of being mutilated … and this barbaric procedure,” according to the Winston-Salem Journal. “When this issue has been brought up, most people can’t believe it’s not already illegal to do this in North Carolina.”
“We call on North Carolina representatives to finish this part of their session strong and pass this important legislation,” 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. Even more urgent locally is that North Carolina has been identified by the federal government as one of the top high-risk states for female genital mutilation.”
The bill passed the State Senate unanimously March 25 and would make performing FGM in North Carolina a Class C felony—with a 44- to 182-month prison sentence—and would also penalize those who consent to the procedure, such as a parent or guardian.
Since May 30, the measure has been with the State House of Representatives Committee on Health, which had a hearing scheduled for today, June 25, with SB 9 on the agenda, but the hearing was cancelled. See a list of Health Committee members, including Senior Chair Gregory F. Murphy, M.D., here.
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is a proponent of the bill and said he looks “forward to working with House leadership to move this legislation swiftly through the process of becoming law.” Krawiec added she is hoping for the law to become effective Dec. 1, 2019, to “give time for notification of the new statute to legal authorities, and give time to educate and notify medical providers of the change in statute.”
According to the Population Reference Bureau, North Carolina ranks as 16th in the country for women and girls at risk for FGM, Yore noted. Furthermore, the bureau found that the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metropolitan areas in North Carolina rank 23rd in the nation for FGM risk.
“That data translates into real children at perilous risk to the trauma and damage of female genital mutilation,” Yore said. “The North Carolina state slogan is ‘A Better Place to Be.’ The North Carolina House of Representatives must make this true and move forward to help protect little girls from this painful and barbaric procedure whose physical and emotional scars last a lifetime.”
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.