North Carolina Introduces Bill to Criminalize FGM
EndFGMToday: Female Genital Mutilation Protection Is a Bipartisan Issue; State Laws Are Even More Crucial After Federal Ban Was Struck Down
Washington, D.C.—Another state is taking a bold and much-needed step to protect women and girls from the horrific and barbaric procedure of female genital mutilation (FGM).
The national EndFGMToday campaign is applauding lawmakers in North Carolina, who have introduced new legislation that would make it a felony to perform FGM or consent to FGM being carried out on girls.
“The #EndFGMToday movement was encouraged to see progress in several states via anti-FGM legislations in 2018,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “Now, 2019 can be an even stronger year for FGM legislation and protections. State laws criminalizing FGM are all the more crucial now, after Michigan District Judge Bernard Friedmann ruled that the federal FGM law was unconstitutional. In the process, serious charges against three alleged FGM perpetrators awaiting trial in Detroit were dismissed. States are now realizing they must enact their own laws to protect their girls from this travesty.”
North Carolina Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) introduced Senate Bill 9 on Jan. 30 “because we must protect our girls from this abuse of being mutilated … and this barbaric procedure,” according to the Winston-Salem Journal. “When this issue has been brought up, most people can’t believe it’s not already illegal to do this in North Carolina.”
SB 9 would make performing FGM in North Carolina a Class C felony—with a 44- to 182-month prison sentence—and would also penalize those who consent to the procedure, such as a parent or guardian. Krawiec is hoping for the bill to become effective Dec. 1, 2019, to “give time for notification of the new statute to legal authorities, and give time to educate and notify medical providers of the change in statute.”
The Journal also reported that, according to a Brigham and Women’s Hospital report, “4,287 girls and women, including 973 under age 18, in North Carolina come from families who immigrated here from countries that practice FGM. The report says those girls and women could be at risk of having FGM performed on them.”
If the bill passes and is signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, North Carolina would become the 29th state to criminalize FGM. In North Carolina, 9,399 girls and women are at risk for FGM, including more than 3,000 under the age of 18, according to research by the Population Reference Bureau.
Ohio became the 28th state to outlaw FGM when legislators voted in favor of a similar FGM bill in December and Gov. John Kasich signed it into law last month. Almost half the states in the nation, however, have not instituted laws to criminalize the barbaric procedure of FGM, which is performed on girls as young as 7 years old and leaves physical and emotional scars for a lifetime.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 500,000 women and girls are at risk for FGM in the U.S. 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.