EndFGMToday to North Carolina Representatives: Make FGM Legislation a Priority!
North Carolina Ranks 16th in Nation for Women and Girls at Risk for Female Genital Mutilation; State Laws Are Even More Crucial Now
Washington, D.C.—Even though North Carolina lawmakers are currently out of session, the national EndFGMToday campaign wants legislation to criminalize the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) to remain a priority.
The current portion of the legislative session ended more than a month ago on June 30, and legislators are not due to start up again until early January. But lawmakers have been known to call special sessions to address other important matters. If that is the case, says internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday, the bill to outlaw FGM should be at the top of the list.
“Even though Senate Bill 9 was introduced way back in January, North Carolina lawmakers did not take the bill over the finish line before the recess, which is unfortunate for girls and women at risk for this heinous act that leaves emotional and physical scars for a lifetime,” Yore said. “Please, North Carolina, make SB 9 a priority—for the sake of your female residents! After all, the state has been identified as one of the top high-risk states for female genital mutilation.”
North Carolina’s bill was introduced 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.”
Krawiec’s 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.
The measure, however, stalled in the House of Representatives Committee on Health since May 30. North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is a proponent of the bill and has said he looks “forward to working with House leadership to move this legislation swiftly through the process of becoming law.”
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. 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.