Southern States Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi Still Must Enact Female Genital Mutilation Laws
EndFGMToday Implores Lawmakers in the South to Step Up in 2020 to Join 35 Other States That Already Protect Women and Girls from FGM Horrors
November 25, 2019
Washington, D.C.—Just 15 states in the nation have not yet enacted their own anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) legislation, and three of them, says the national EndFGMToday campaign, are nestled in the South.
“Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi share a common ‘distinction’ of having yet to outlaw the horrific practice of female genital mutilation that leaves physical and emotional scars for a lifetime,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “Contrary to widespread misconceptions, FGM does happen right here in the U.S., and any girl in any state can be at risk. In fact, those states that have not yet passed FGM legislation could become known as destinations where FGM perpetrators can travel to get away with this terrible form of child abuse. That’s why it’s so important that the 15 remaining states without FGM measures in place make this a priority in 2020.”
In Alabama, the House of Representatives adjourned early without taking action on HB 421, a bill to criminalize FGM. The measure was introduced in April in the House and passed the Judiciary Committee in May. The proposed legislation would make performing or facilitating FGM on a female under the age of 19 a Class B felony.
Then in Mississippi, legislators allowed Senate Bill 2472 to die in committee this past February. Lawmakers lost their chance this year to protect their female residents from a cruel and barbaric practice. Similarly, Kentucky lawmakers allowed a bill to die in 2018.
Besides Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi, additional states that do not currently outlaw FGM include: Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.
EndFGMToday has asserted many times that state laws criminalizing FGM are all the more crucial now, after a Michigan judge last year ruled that the federal FGM law was unconstitutional. In the process, serious charges against three alleged FGM perpetrators awaiting trial in Detroit were dismissed.
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, and over half a million women and girls are at risk of FGM right here in the United States, according to the CDC.