EndFGMToday Calls Out New England for Continuing to Fail Women and Girls

EndFGMToday Calls Out New England for Continuing to Fail Women and Girls

Four New England States—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont—Still Do Not Criminalize Female Genital Mutilation

January 27, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In 2020, the national #EndFGMToday initiative is continuing its commitment to urge all 50 states to enact strong female genital mutilation (FGM) criminalization laws. While 2019 saw eight more states join the ranks of those that protect women and girls from this heinous practice, 15 states still do not outlaw FGM.

Among them are four New England states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.

“These four states in New England have been among the most resistant to protecting girls and women from the horrors of female genital mutilation,” said international child advocate and attorney Elizabeth Yore, who leads #EndFGMToday. “Why? Curiously, Connecticut even heard from an FGM survivor who testified in support of an FGM bill in the state legislature nearly two years ago. But to no avail; a bill to criminalize this brutal and unnecessary procedure in Connecticut died in committee. Perhaps Connecticut legislators have ignored the fact that both the United Nations and the World Health Organization have labeled the heinous practice as a violation of human rights.”

Likewise, Yore noted, Massachusetts has also not criminalized FGM. Susan B. Anthony, one of Massachusetts’ most dedicated women’s rights activists, would be shocked and deeply disappointed that her home state still has not criminalized FGM.

“Susan B. Anthony is largely credited as the first women’s rights activist who led the women’s suffrage movement,” Yore says. “The Bay State boasts of a long history of strong female freedom fighters such as Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone and Abby Kelley Foster, who, like Anthony, fought valiantly for women’s right to vote and other civil and economic rights for women. The state was known for these Bay-bred, hearty females who fearlessly fought for their rights—until now.

“Although the Population Reference Bureau ranks Massachusetts in the top-quarter tier of states at risk of female genital mutilation with an estimated 14,200 women and girls at risk, Massachusetts has repeatedly failed to pass legislation to criminalize FGM,” Yore added. “The CDC also estimates that over 513,000 women and girls are at risk of FGM in the United States.”

Despite also hearing testimony from an FGM survivor, Maine legislators in 2018 let an FGM bill die in committee. Vermont’s bill was passed by the House and referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare in April 2019, where it stalled.

Since a Michigan federal judge found the federal statute unconstitutional in late 2018, the urgency to pass state FGM laws is ever more pressing. Now victims can only rely on state FGM laws for protection from this brutal procedure. Local prosecutors possess and can expend far more resources to investigate and prosecute this heinous practice against little girls if state anti-FGM laws are in place.

Two New England states—New Hampshire and Rhode Island—are among the 35 that have enacted measures against the horrors of FGM. Besides the four in New England, Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Washington and Wyoming also have no FGM criminalization laws.

Learn more about FGM at www.EndFGMToday.com, including a state-by-state map of those that do have laws, or on social media at #EndFGMToday.

###

To interview Elizabeth Yore of #EndFGMToday, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.