Shame on Maine!
Senate Squanders Opportunity to Protect Girls and Women from Barbaric Female Genital Mutilation
Senate Fails to Bring L.D. 745 Up for Vote Last Week; #EndFGMToday Calls Out Lawmakers Who Ignored Cries of Little Girls; Now Looks to January and Urges Other States to Enact Anti-FGM Laws
WASHINGTON, D.C.—During its summer legislative session, the Maine Senate last week marched in lock step with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and chose not to revive a bill that would have criminalized female genital mutilation (FGM) in the state. Without a two-thirds vote in the Senate to call up L.D. 745 again, the bill remains in the dead file, with the next chance to protect Maine’s girls and women from the horrors of FGM in January.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Heather Sirocki, as well as advocates from End FGM Today, have heard from Maine residents across all parties who are irate that lawmakers did not take a stand against this heinous issue.
Now, End FGM Today is calling out the lawmakers who voted against bringing up the bill for another vote. On Aug. 2, the Maine Senate had a chance to revive the bill with amendments, then send it to the House. But 12 Senators, all Democrats, voted against bringing L.D. 745 to a vote. See contact information at each link below:
- Shenna Bellows—Kennebec
- Catherine Breen—Cumberland
- Michael Carpenter—Aroostook
- Brownie Carson—Cumberland
- Benjamin Chipman—Cumberland
- Susan Deschambault—York
- Mark Dion—Cumberland
- Geoffrey Gratwick—Penobscot
- Nate Libby—Androscoggin
- Rebecca Millett—Cumberland
- David Miramant—Knox
- Eloise Vitelli—Sagadahoc
“EndFGMToday has awakened a sleeping giant in Maine,” said Elizabeth Yore, head of End FGM Today. “We are hearing from hard-core Democrats, Republicans and Independent Maine citizens who are furious that the Maine legislature did not pass this bill to protect little girls from female genital mutilation. We are building a coalition of child advocates and activists in Maine to ensure legislatively and politically that FGM will be criminalized in Maine in the very near future. We have only begun to fight for young girls.”
The bill did receive some Democratic support in the final Senate vote, with Justin Chenette, Bill Diamond, James Dill, Dawn Hill and Troy Jackson voting “yes.” Three Republican Senators were excused from voting: Brian Langley, Amy Volk and Rod Whittemore. View the full roll call on the bill here.
“We’d like to ask the lawmakers who voted ‘no’: What is your rationale?” Yore said. “It can’t be that the bill isn’t necessary, since it was strongly supported by the Maine Prosecutors Association as an important prosecutorial tool. We know it’s not that no one is at risk of FGM in Maine, since the U.S. federal government has selected the state as one of the eight at highest risk for FGM in the country. And the rationale can’t involve a bogus ‘Islamophobia’ argument because the United Nations, whose largest voting block is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), is also against FGM. If it’s none of these things, then what is it, Maine Senators?”
The UN, the United Nations Population Fund and UNICEF jointly lead the largest global program to accelerate the abandonment of female genital mutilation. This past February, the groups sponsored the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
Yore also pointed out that five of the Democratic Senators who voted “no” on the bill are women and should have stood up for the girls of Maine.
“Shockingly, several female democratic legislators consistently voted against this FGM crime bill,” she said. “So much for female empowerment and child protection in the Pine Tree State. Thus, Maine assumes the dubious distinction of becoming the safe harbor state for mutilators. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half a million women and girls are at risk for genital mutilation in the U.S., yet the Maine legislature refused to listen to the cries and pleas of these girls, and would rather participate in cheap political stunts than fight for the human rights of our youngest victims.”
Now, End FGM Today will prepare for January and work to continue the fight in Maine, as well as urge the 25 other states without anti-FGM legislation on their books to enact tough bills that will protect girls and prosecute mutilators.
Learn more about how to #EndFGMToday at www.EndFGMToday.com and on social media.