Shocking: Maine House Dem, Claiming to Be a ‘Feminist,’ Has Not Helped Her State Protect Women from a Vicious Human Rights Violation

Shocking: Maine House Dem, Claiming to Be a ‘Feminist,’ Has Not Helped Her State Protect Women from a Vicious Human Rights Violation

Young Females in the Pine Tree State Remain at ‘Perilous Risk’ to ‘Trauma,’ Says #EndFGMToday

August 31, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Eleven states in our nation still have not acted to protect vulnerable young women from a vicious form of child abuse. And in one of these 11 states, a so-called “feminist” representative—now the Democrat nominee for a U.S. Senate seat—has failed to push forward important legislation to outlaw this insidious human rights violation.

The abhorrent practice known as FGM—female genital mutilation—is legal as of now, shockingly, in Maine, as well as in 10 other states. Yet all other states have taken decisive legislative action to outlaw the repugnant procedure for women who remain vulnerable to it.

Throughout her tenure as speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Democrat State Rep. Sara Gideon has failed to oversee successful legislation against FGM. Instead, she’s stood by as colleagues claimed the bill was “racist” toward Maine’s Somalian immigrant community, as the Washington Free Beacon recently noted. Yet Gideon has “cultivated” an “image as a champion of women’s rights, one built on her consistent support for abortion access and the #MeToo movement,” the Beacon also indicated. Gideon is running for the seat currently held by incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

A survivor of FGM, F.A. Cole, who testified in front of the Maine legislature, told the Beacon she “could not understand why” an elected Democrat politician “did everything in her power to just kill this bill.”

“Real children across our country are at perilous risk to the trauma and damage of female genital mutilation—and FGM truly is a form of child abuse,” says internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. It is why, she says, “we are urging all state legislatures to help protect little girls from this painful and barbaric procedure.”

Elected officials in Maine and elsewhere will be able to vote on legislation this fall and winter prohibiting FGM. Sadly, more than half a million women and girls are at risk right now of FGM in the United States. Some state legislatures had been moving forward on laws banning the barbaric practice—but the COVID-19 crisis delayed the legislative process.

“Eleven states in America currently do not have laws to prohibit female genital mutilation, and that’s 11 states too many,” Yore emphasizes. “Essentially, this means that nearly a quarter of our states are giving a legal pass to those who carry out and permit this brutal procedure on girls as young as the age of five.”

“FGM leaves physical and emotional scars for a lifetime,” Yore adds. Unfortunately, she knows this too well, as her group “works closely with women in their 50s and 60s who still deal with the side effects and traumatic memories today.”

States must create their own laws against the despicable practice, as a federal ban on it was struck down as unconstitutional in 2018 by a district court judge.

A handful of states thus far in 2020—Massachusetts, Kentucky, Wyoming, and Vermont—have finalized anti-FGM legislation. On August 6, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed H4606 into law; it takes effect in November of this year. In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear signed SB 72 into law on April 2. In Wyoming, HB0127 sailed through the legislative process and Gov. Mark Gordon signed the bill on March 13. And in Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott signed his state’s bill, H.83, on February 27.

EndFGMToday suggests these key ways that states can prioritize proposed anti-FGM laws. States should do the following:

  • Examine the forthright actions of other states to fight this tragic form of child abuse. The AHA Foundation grades states based on the strength of their anti-FGM laws.
  • Use the Population Reference Bureau to research the number of women and girls in each state who remain at terrible risk for FGM.
  • Check EndFGMToday’s state map showing the states that haven’t yet passed anti-FGM legislation.

The 11 states that currently remain without anti-FGM laws are Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Washington.

Yore points out that female genital mutilation is a human rights violation, as recognized by both the World Health Organization and the United Nations. Additionally, over 200 million women worldwide have been victims of this cruel practice—and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 500,000 girls are at risk in the U.S. alone. Sadly, the United States is not among those nations that have outlawed FGM. Yore says this is why state laws criminalizing FGM must remain an urgent priority.

Elizabeth Yore has spent 30 years in legal child advocacy. Prior to her work at EndFGMToday.com, she served as Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc., as Oprah Winfrey’s child advocate. She was also General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for eight years, as well as General Counsel at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Visit EndFGMToday.com for a state-by-state map that glaringly highlights those states that do not yet have anti-FGM laws. Learn more about FGM at www.EndFGMToday.com or on social media at #EndFGMToday.

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To interview Elizabeth Yore of #EndFGMToday, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.