Mississippi and Alabama Have ‘Distinction’ of Being the Only States in Deep South Without FGM Laws
EndFGMToday: It’s Time for Mississippi and Alabama to Join 35 Other States to Protect Women and Girls from Female Genital Mutilation, Which Happens Right Here in the U.S.
Washington, D.C.—Just 15 states in the nation have not yet enacted their own anti-female genital mutilation legislation—a huge step from this time last year, when only 27 states had FGM laws on the books. Today, that number sits at 35 states, with North Carolina being the latest to protect its women and girls from this heinous practice.
In the Deep South, Mississippi and Alabama have the shameful “distinction” of having yet to outlaw this horrific procedure that leaves physical and emotional scars for a lifetime—and it happens right here in the U.S.
In Mississippi, according to the national EndFGMToday campaign, legislators allowed Senate Bill 2472 to die in committee this past February. With the 2019 legislative session complete, lawmakers lost their chance this year to protect their female residents from a cruel and barbaric practice.
Then in Alabama, the House of Representatives adjourned early without taking action on HB 421, a bill to criminalize FGM. The measure was introduced in April in the House and passed the Judiciary Committee in May. The proposed legislation would make performing or facilitating FGM on a female under the age of 19 a Class B felony.
“As more and more states enact powerful anti-FGM laws that speak volumes, child advocates are increasingly concerned that Mississippi and Alabama are remaining silent so far on this serious issue that affects women and girls,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “Mississippi and Alabama’s Southern neighbors—Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and the Carolinas—all have FGM laws in place. As such, Mississippi and Alabama risk the dubious distinction and danger of being a lure for female genital mutilators. As soon as the legislative sessions begin again, FGM laws in Mississippi and Alabama must be a priority.”
EndFGMToday has called on Kentucky legislators to sponsor anti-FGM legislation as well. EndFGMToday has also 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 perpetrated upon little girls and women. Over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to this cruel practice, and over half a million women and girls are at risk of FGM right here in the United States, according to the CDC.