Hamilton Strategies Non Profit Marketing and Media Services

Female Genital Mutilation Now a Felony in Pennsylvania

EndFGMToday Applauds Rep. Tom Murt, Rep. Donna Bullock and Congressman Scott Perry, Who Brought Darkness of FGM Into Light in PA

Washington, D.C.—The horrific practice of female genital mutilation is now a first-degree felony in Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Wolf has signed House Bill 315 into law.

The national EndFGMToday campaign is applauding Keystone State lawmakers who championed the bill, including bill sponsors, Reps. Tom Murt and Donna Bullock, as well as Congressman Scott Perry, who submitted a letter to Wolf and Hon. Lisa Baker, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to call for the much-needed law to protect women and girls in the state from this cruel practice that leaves physical and emotional scars for a lifetime.

Elizabeth Yore, an internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate who heads EndFGMToday, has worked closely with many state lawmakers to enact FGM legislation.

“Thousands of women and girls are at risk for FGM in Pennsylvania,” Yore said. “We appreciate and applaud the lawmakers and Gov. Wolf, who stood up for women and girls with the passage of this important law. Plain and simple—FGM is child abuse. In fact, the CDC estimates that 513,000 girls are at risk of FGM in the United States, and Pennsylvania ranks 11th for FGM risk among all states.”

According to the Population Reference Bureau, nearly 19,500 female residents of Pennsylvania are at risk for FGM—more than 6,000 of them girls under the age of 18—ranking the state 11th in the nation. Furthermore, the PRB found that the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA/NJ/DE; Harrisburg-Carlisle; and Pittsburgh regions of Pennsylvania are also top metropolitan areas in the nation for FGM risk.

After championing the measure, Perry released a statement following the governor’s signature.

“I appreciate the combined efforts of the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Tom Murt, and Pennsylvania House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Kauffman for pushing this critical legislation through the legislative process. Pennsylvania will join the majority of states that have similar provisions. I’m hopeful that the momentum continues to other states until we all agree that FGM/C is intolerable in the United States of America, and that the perpetrators of this heinous act should be held accountable.”

Murt also called the law a “major victory for the women of Pennsylvania.”

“I want to thank the governor for understanding the seriousness of this crime and for women to be safe from this kind of abuse,” Murt said. “FGM is a crime of violence against women. Now, Pennsylvania is explicitly saying that.”

HB 315 had passed the Pennsylvania House in April and the Senate in June.

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. The U.S. government has declined to appeal the decision.

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. Over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to this cruel practice.

View the 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.