New Decade, New Chance to Outlaw FGM
EndFGMToday: 15 States Still Don’t Criminalize Female Genital Mutilation; Many Have Bills in the Works and Sessions Begin Now
January 20, 2020
Washington, D.C.—The calendar pages turned to a new decade this earlier this month, and the national EndFGMToday campaign says it’s the perfect time for the remaining 15 states that don’t outlaw the barbaric procedure of female genital mutilation (FGM) to act.
“What better time than the clean slate of 2020 for these 15 states to cross the finish line and act strongly and decisively in the best interest of their female residents?” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “FGM is a brutal and unnecessary procedure that leaves physical and emotional scars for a lifetime. Girls as young as 5 years old are subject to this heinous form of child abuse, and women in their 50s and 60s are still dealing with the side effects and traumatic memories today.”
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.
In all, 35 states outlaw FGM, and 2019 was a banner year, with a significant group of states passing legislation. The majority of the 15 states without laws—Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming—begin legislative sessions this month. In many of these states, bills have been introduced or are very close to the official introductory stage.
“Today, in the era of gender-based violence and the #MeToo movement, FGM, one of the most brutal gender-based acts of violence against little girls, remains protected in 15 states and in federal law in the United States,” Yore said. “We must urge our senators and representatives to move quickly to pass legislation criminalizing female genital mutilation. This is rapidly becoming a national scandal that the greatest country in the world can’t protect little girls from this barbarism.”
Yore also noted that female genital mutilation is recognized by both the World Health Organization and the United Nations as a human rights violation. Additionally, over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to this cruel practice, and the CDC estimates that more than 500,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation in the United States.