EndFGMToday: Illinois Removes Criminal Statute of Limitations on Female Genital Mutilation
U.S. FGM Child Survivors No Longer Restrained on When They May Bring Charges Against Perpetrators of This Heinous Practice
Washington, D.C.—The state of Illinois has made an important distinction in its already-strong female genital mutilation (FGM) criminalization law. Now, after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB 3498 into law, that criminal statute of limitations has been removed.
The national EndFGMToday campaign is applauding the action, which amends the criminal code and removes the statute of limitations for the prosecution of FGM if the victim is under 18 years of age at the time of the offense. The previous statute of limitations for FGM was three years, standard for felony offenses in America.
“Considering that many survivors of FGM are violated when they are young girls—as young as the age of 3 in some tragic cases—a three-year statute of limitations was virtually useless,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “This measure allows girls and women to later hold their perpetrators accountable once they come face to face with the long-term effects of female genital mutilation, and how the barbaric and unnecessary procedure leaves both physical and emotional scars for a lifetime. We applaud Illinois lawmakers for making this measure a priority and urge the other 34 states that have enacted anti-FGM laws to ensure their statutes of limitations are also in the best interest of survivors.”
According to the Population Reference Bureau, Illinois ranks as 13th in the United States for women and girls at risk for FGM, Yore noted, with more than 12,000 total at risk—3,000 of them girls under the age of 18.
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. Currently, 35 states outlaw FGM.
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. Additionally, over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to this cruel practice, and the CDC estimates that 513,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation in the United States.