Pennsylvania Anti-FGM Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk
EndFGMToday Applauds Lawmakers Who Took Action to Protect Female Residents; Keystone State Ranks 11th for Women and Girls for FGM Risk
The national EndFGMToday campaign is applauding Keystone State lawmakers who championed the bill, including House Reps. Tom Murt and Donna Bullock, as well as Congressman Scott Perry, who submitted a letter to Wolf and Hon. Lisa Baker, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, last month to call for the much-needed law to protect women and girls in the state from this cruel practice that leaves physical and emotional scars for a lifetime.
Elizabeth Yore, an internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate who heads EndFGMToday, has worked closely with many state lawmakers to enact FGM legislation. Currently, 32 states have FGM criminalization laws on their books, but women and girls are unprotected from FGM in 18 states. Pennsylvania will be the 33rd state outlawing the practice.
“EndFGMToday applauds Pennsylvania lawmakers who stood up for women and girls with the passage of this important bill,” Yore said. “FGM is child abuse. In fact, the CDC estimates that 513,000 girls are at risk of FGM in the United States, and Pennsylvania ranks 11th for FGM risk among all states. Soon, females at risk for this brutal procedure will be free from the horror of female genital mutilation.”
The bill had passed the House 196-1 April 9 and passed the Senate unanimously yesterday. It reached the governor’s office today.
“This is a major victory for the women of Pennsylvania,” Murt said in a statement. “I want to thank my colleagues in both the House and Senate for taking this strong and unified stand for the right to be safe from this kind of abuse. FGM is a crime of violence against women. With Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature the law will explicitly state that.”
According to the Population Reference Bureau, more than 19,000 women and girls in Pennsylvania are at risk for FGM, ranking it 11th in the nation, Yore noted. Furthermore, the PRB found that the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA/NJ/DE; Harrisburg-Carlisle; and Pittsburgh regions of Pennsylvania are also top metropolitan areas in the nation for FGM risk.
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. The U.S. government has declined to appeal the decision.
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.