Mississippi Bill Prohibiting FGM Dies in Committee, Leaving Girls Vulnerable to Mutilation
#EndFGMToday: Human Rights Violation Is a War on Women Few Are Willing to Acknowledge, Talk About or Fix
August 3, 2020
washington, D.C. — Another case of state government inaction is drawing criticism from human rights activists after a bill presented to the Mississippi Legislature to protect girls from female genital mutilation (FGM) died in committee.
Senate Bill 2075 would have classified female genital mutilation as child abuse and created a pathway for victims to obtain justice, damages, and protection. If approved, the bill would have taken effect on July 1, 2020, but it died in committee in March.
#EndFGMToday leader Elizabeth Yore, an international attorney and human rights advocate, says state lawmakers have missed another chance to spare women and girls irreparable harm.
“Mississippi’s failure to ban FGM is emblematic of a war on women and girls in the U.S. that few are willing to talk about.
“The bill in Mississippi was introduced by Sen. Angela Burks Hill and co-authored by Sen. Joseph Seymour, and we applaud their valiant efforts. Passing this bill would have been an incredible chance to protect girls and women in Mississippi from the heinous act of female genital mutilation. No longer can states use the argument that ‘it doesn’t happen here.’ If even one young girl is spared from a lifetime of physical and emotional scars, it is worth it. Unfortunately, Mississippi lawmakers decided to keep their state from joining the other 38 states that say ‘no’ to FGM in 2020.”
In 2018, the 1996 federal ban of FGM was struck down by U.S. federal district judge Bernard A. Friedman, placing on states the obligation of outlawing the horrific practice. Twelve states, including Mississippi, have failed to do so.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 513,000 women and girls in the United States were at risk for FGM in 2012. But now, eight years later, with FGM no longer a federal crime, countless girls and young women are at risk. #EndFGMToday says governments need to start defending their female citizens.
Without an approved bill, the human rights violation will remain legal and threaten the safety, health and well-being of girls in Mississippi and 11 other states.
FGM has impacted over 200 million girls around the world in more than 30 countries primarily in Africa, as well as in the Middle East and Asia. Without federal legislation, each state must pass its own legislation to protect the 513,000 girls and women in The Centers for Disease Control’s estimate of at risk females in the United States.