EndFGMToday Urges Legislators to Introduce Female Genital Mutilation Bills in Upcoming 2020 Sessions
15 States Have No Protections Against FGM—All States Must Guard Women and Girls from This Heinous Practice with New Measures in 2020
October 7, 2019
Washington, D.C.—National policy makes constant headlines, but the EndFGMToday initiative wants additional protective policies to make state news in 2020.
Currently, 15 states across the country do not have criminalization laws in place to protect women and girls from the brutal and unnecessary practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).
With legislative sessions beginning in many states in January and February 2020, EndFGMToday is urging legislators to take up the important cause of protecting girls from FGM in their states, as they champion, introduce or co-sponsor new and existing measures.
Currently, 35 states outlaw FGM, which leaves physical and emotional scars on female survivors for a lifetime. However, the following states do not have laws against FGM, and therefore, could become destinations for “vacation cutting” for perpetrators: Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.
“A major positive development in FGM legislation was the introduction of two federal companion bills that would criminalize FGM nationwide,” said EndFGMToday leader, internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore. “Earlier this summer, EndFGMToday applauded Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry, who introduced H.R. 3583 and S. 2017, which would outlaw this heinous form of child abuse on a national level.”
These new federal bills, Yore added, were introduced with the goal of rectifying the shortcomings in a previous federal law that was ruled unconstitutional late last year. Since then, EndFGMToday has asserted many times that state laws criminalizing FGM are all the more crucial now.
“But in the meantime, until the federal measure becomes law, it is up to states to protect women and girls from FGM,” Yore said. “And if and when the federal measure is passed, it is still crucial for individual states to enact their own laws. State prosecutors rely on state laws to carry out justice against perpetrators, which is why it is vitally important that these remaining 15 states act swiftly to enact their own laws—preferably in 2020.”
Yore also 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.