Four New England States Have Failed Girls by Not Criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation
New Hampshire and Rhode Island Protect Women and Girls from FGM But Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont Have Yet to Pass Laws
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Just two New England states—New Hampshire and Rhode Island—have enacted measures to protect women and girls from the horrors of female genital mutilation (FGM).
The other four—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont—have yet to pass laws to criminalize this barbaric procedure. And that, says the national #EndFGMToday initiative, is a tragedy.
Some New England states have faced chances to end FGM while others have squandered these opportunities.
International child advocate and attorney Elizabeth Yore leads #EndFGMToday and has worked with legislators in many states who want to enact or strengthen FGM criminalization laws. Yore also works with FGM survivors, helping them to tell their stories so that lawmakers will know the full, disturbing impact on women and girls, even decades after this cruel and unnecessary procedure.
Kadi Doumbia is one of the millions of survivors around the world who endured the physical and emotional scars of FGM. The Mali native, who left her country at the age of 18 and has been in the U.S. for about 25 years, has shared her story several times with lawmakers. In fact, she testified in person in front of New Hampshire and Connecticut legislative committees last year.
“When lawmakers hear from an actual victim and survivor of female genital mutilation, the horrors of this practice become very real,” Yore said. “We applaud this brave woman, and others like her, who are working to make sure that other little girls do not endure the same trauma they did.”
After hearing Doumbia’s testimony, New Hampshire lawmakers passed FGM legislation and Gov. Chris Sununu signed it into law a year ago this month. The Rhode Island statute had already been on the books.
Connecticut legislators allowed the FGM criminalization bill to die in the House Public Health Committee. And despite hearing from another FGM survivor, Maine legislators in 2018 also let an FGM bill die in committee. Likewise, the Massachusetts bill has been stalled in committee since January. Vermont’s bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare this April, where it has remained. Sixteen states total do not outlaw FGM.
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 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 and barbaric practice. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 513,000 girls and women are at risk of FGM in the United States.
Learn more about FGM at www.EndFGMToday.com or on social media at #EndFGMToday.