Four New England States Have Failed Girls by Not Criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation

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

October 28, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Four New England states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont—are among the 15 states that have not passed their own laws to criminalize the barbaric procedure female genital mutilation (FGM). Failing to protect women and girls from this heinous practice, says the national #EndFGMToday initiative, is unacceptable.

Two New England states—New Hampshire and Rhode Island—are among the 35 that have enacted measures against the horrors of FGM.

“Some of these New England states had chances to end FGM for their girls and women but failed to make it a priority,” said international child advocate and attorney Elizabeth Yore, who leads #EndFGMToday.

Yore 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 last year. The Rhode Island statute had already been on the books.

Connecticut legislators allowed an FGM criminalization bill to die in the House Public Health Committee in March. 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 passed by the House and referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare in April, where it has remained.

Besides the four in New England, additional states that do not outlaw FGM include: Alabama, Alaska,  Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Washington and Wyoming.

EndFGMToday has asserted many times that state laws criminalizing FGM are all the more crucial now, after a Michigan judge ruled last year that the federal FGM law was unconstitutional.

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, including a state-by-state map of those that do have laws, or on social media at #EndFGMToday.

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To interview Elizabeth Yore of #EndFGMToday, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.