EndFGMToday: How the Remaining 12 States Can Make Female Genital Mutilation a Legislative Priority
Vermont, Wyoming and Kentucky Are the Latest States in 2020 to Criminalize This Heinous Form of Child Abuse; a Dozen States Still Don’t Outlaw FGM But Some Have Bills in the Works
April 27, 2020
Washington, D.C.—State legislators are facing major challenges right now, with health and economic concerns plaguing many states.
When lawmakers can focus on passing new, much-needed state laws again, the national EndFGMToday campaign hopes they will put measures outlawing the barbaric procedure of female genital mutilation (FGM) at the top of the list.
“Currently, 12 states in America do not have laws to prohibit female genital mutilation—and that is 12 states too many,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “Essentially, this means that a quarter of our states are giving a legal pass to those who carry out and permit this heinous, brutal and unnecessary procedure on little girls as young as the age of 5. FGM leaves physical and emotional scars for a lifetime, as we work closely with women in their 50s and 60s who still deal with the side effects and traumatic memories today.”
Thus far in 2020, Vermont, Wyoming and Kentucky have finalized anti-FGM legislation. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed H.83 on Feb. 27. In Wyoming, HB0127 sailed through the legislative process and Gov. Mark Gordon signed the bill on March 13. Then Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed SB 72 into law on April 2.
As legislatures reconvene after state shutdowns, EndFGMToday suggests several ways the remaining 12 states can put proposed anti-FGM laws front and center.
- See what other states have done to combat this terrible form of child abuse. The AHA Foundation grades states based on the strength of their anti-FGM laws.
- Research the number of women and girls in each state who are at risk for FGM through the Population Reference Bureau.
- Check EndFGMToday’s state map that highlights states that have not yet passed anti-FGM legislation.
Some of the 12 states without laws—Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico and Washington—have introduced anti-FGM bills or are very close to the official introductory stage.
Yore 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 alone.
Shockingly, the United States is not among the nations that have outlawed FGM. A 1996 mandate did exist, but late in 2018, Michigan judge Bernard A. Friedman ruled that the federal FGM law was unconstitutional on a technicality that had nothing to do with the actual issue. In the process, serious charges against three alleged FGM perpetrators awaiting trial in Detroit were dismissed. For this reason, Yore says, state laws criminalizing FGM are all the more crucial now. Several lawmakers are working toward another federal FGM law.