New England States Forge Ahead in Commitment to End Female Genital Mutilation
New Hampshire Protects Women and Girls from FGM and Measures Are Underway in Connecticut, While Maine Squanders Opportunity
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Several New England states have been faced with chances to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Some have stood up for girls and women, while others have squandered the opportunity to protect them.
The national #EndFGMToday initiative, led by international child advocate and attorney Elizabeth Yore, works with legislators who want to enact or strengthen FGM criminalization laws in their states. 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 24 years, is sharing her story with lawmakers in states that are considering anti-FGM legislation to criminalize this barbaric practice. She testified in person in front of New Hampshire and Connecticut legislative committees, and also provided a written statement to the Illinois House Judiciary Committee. Other testimonies are planned for the future.
“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.”
Kadi and her daughter, Fatima Diabate, were featured this week in LifeZette.com, the news site founded by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. Kadi talked about her personal experience, while Fatima said her brave mother saved her from the brutal practice of FGM.
“As a survivor of female genital mutilation, I feel I have an inherent right to expose the grief of it,” Kadi told LifeZette. “FGM has haunted me my entire life, physically, emotionally and psychologically. It has taken me decades to speak openly about these most private and horrific secrets, unwillingly and unknowingly imposed upon me.”
Added Fatima, “My mother saved me from FGM. Because of her bravery, I can now enjoy a love life free of pain, medical complications and suffering.”
FGM legislation sailed through the House of Representatives in New Hampshire. Now, that bill to criminalize FGM is heading to the governor’s desk for signature next month. In Connecticut, a bill to prohibit FGM in that state is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Despite hearing from an FGM survivor, Maine legislators last month decided FGM should not be a crime in their state, with all but one Democrats voting against an “act to prohibit FGM against the minor child.”
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. Twenty-six states and the federal government have criminalized FGM.
Learn more about FGM at www.EndFGMToday.com or on social media at #EndFGMToday.