Every State Must Protect Its Females From FGM
#EndFGMToday Calls on 24 States Without Female Genital Mutilation Laws to Protect Their Women and Girls in 2018
Washington, D.C.—Over the past year, the horrific practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) has garnered national attention, raising the awareness of this terrible procedure performed primarily on little girls that disfigures them and inflicts emotional scars for a lifetime.
The attention has come, in part, from the highly publicized case of an FGM trafficking ring that included accused mutilator Dr. Jumana Nagarwala in Michigan. She has been charged with conspiracy, genital mutilation, transporting minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, lying to a federal agent and obstructing an official proceeding. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison.
Although FGM has been a federal crime since 1996, #EndFGMToday leader Elizabeth Yore says states must also enact their own laws so that state prosecutors—who are better equipped to police such statutes—can also bring perpetrators to justice. Unfortunately, just over half of the states in the country—26—have their own anti-FGM laws on the books.
“FGM is a growing criminal activity in the United States and, as the federal government works to stop it, the 24 states that have yet to enact their own anti-FGM laws need to do so quickly,” Yore said. “States from Arizona to Wisconsin already have laws on their books that criminalize this barbaric procedure, and several more are working on legislative measures. But every state in the union should stand with more than half-a-million girls and women across America who the Centers for Disease Control estimates have either already been subjected to genital mutilation or may be in the future. If every state joins the fight against FGM, its perpetrators will no longer be able to operate in the shadows but, rather, be brought into the light and stopped once and for all.”
Nationally, the House of Representatives recently passed the “Stopping Abusive Female Exploitation” (SAFE) Act, which would triple the penalties for FGM from five to 15 years of imprisonment. Yore, an attorney and former Illinois Assistant Attorney General and international child advocate, urges the Senate now to follow suit to protect women and girls.
Ohio may be the next state to enact anti-FGM laws. Sens. Peggy Lehner (R-District 6) and Lou Terhar (R-District 8) have introduced Senate Bill 214, which would prohibit FGM in the Buckeye State. View the states with FGM laws on the EndFGMToday.com site here.
Yore, who has spent 30 years in legal child advocacy and previously served as Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc. as Oprah Winfrey’s child advocate, adds that despite the fact that the World Health Organization and the United Nations declared FGM a violation of human rights, more than 200 million women and girls are subjected to this torture around the world. At least 59 countries around the world outlaw FGM, and many have tougher penalties than the United States.
Learn more at www.EndFGMToday.com and on social media at #EndFGMToday about FGM and efforts underway in the United States to stop it.