EndFGMToday: Why Hasn’t Kentucky Outlawed the Heinous Practice of Female Genital Mutilation?

EndFGMToday: Why Hasn’t Kentucky Outlawed the Heinous Practice of Female Genital Mutilation?

EndFGMToday Calls on Kentucky Lawmakers to Sponsor Legislation in Coming Session, As Majority of Southern States Prohibit FGM

Washington, D.C.—A growing number of states across America—35 in all—have criminalized the barbaric procedure of female genital mutilation (FGM). And an overwhelmingly number of states in the South have either enacted laws or have measures in the works.

But Kentucky lawmakers, reports the national EndFGMToday campaign, allowed a bill to die in 2018. The advocacy group is calling on Kentucky legislators to champion a new measure in the 2020 session.

“Kentucky has passed a law—one of the toughest in the country—to prohibit child marriage,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “So why not also protect girls from the terrible, brutal procedure of FGM that leaves physical and emotional scars for an entire lifetime?”

Yore also pointed to an online petition started by a Kentucky resident named Jennifer whose strict, white, Christian family forced her to undergo FGM/C (female genital mutilation/cutting) as a child. She writes on the Change.org petition page:

FGM/C is often seen in the United States as a problem that doesn’t happen here. This practice occurs all over the world and is happening right here on American soil. FGM is a human rights violation, it is a practice that leaves victims with lifelong consequences and causes multiple physical complications. Initially a victim can suffer from shock, infection, blood loss and sometimes death. Most survivors suffer from frequent urinary tract infections, difficulty in childbirth, infertility, chronic pain, painful menstruation, painful intercourse and genital sores, many physical complications that a survivor must suffer with in silence. Women and girls are not just impacted in a physical way, many suffer from the emotional impact that this trauma can cause. Since FGM is regularly done in a non-sterile environment without any form of pain control, it is often one of the most traumatic events they will ever experience in their lives. Women and girls are left dealing with anxiety, depression, frequent nightmares and flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder. All these complications are worsened by the fact that communities are unaware of what FGM/C is and are not educated on how to help someone that has endured FGM/C, which forces survivors to suffer in silence.”

“The petition by this brave woman in Kentucky has been signed by more than 33,000 concerned people,” Yore noted, “which is an indicator that this is a powerful issue for state residents—a matter legislators should pay close attention to and take seriously.”

Yore added that Mississippi and Alabama in the South also do not yet have FGM criminalization laws. Kentucky neighbors Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia also have measures in place. To the north, Indiana has also not yet enacted a law.

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. 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.

View the website at EndFGMToday.com for a state-by-state map of those who do have anti-FGM laws and learn more about FGM at www.EndFGMToday.com or on social media at #EndFGMToday.