Tennessee Bill That Toughens Female Genital Mutilation Protections Heading to Governor’s Desk
EndFGMToday: Strong State Laws Like Tennessee’s Are Even More Important—and Needed—After Federal FGM Ban Was Struck Down
Washington, D.C.—A bill in Tennessee that strengthens the states protections against female genital mutilation (FGM) is headed to the governor’s desk for signing.
The national EndFGMToday campaign is applauding Tennessee lawmakers for furthering additional legislation that will protect women and girls from FGM and punish the perpetrators of this brutal and unnecessary practice. The Volunteer State already had a law criminalizing FGM on its books.
“The mutilation of little girls’ genitals defies all standards of humanity and cries out as a hideous violation of human rights, according to the United Nations and World Health Organization,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “The CDC estimates that 513,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation in the United States. Legislators in Tennessee realize this fact and are working to strengthen their laws even further to protect women and girls in their state. EndFGMToday urges Gov. Bill Lee to sign this critically important legislation as soon as possible.”
HB 1364, sponsored by Rep. Terri Weaver (R-40th District), unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee, and its companion bill, SB 1366, introduced by Sen. Joey Hensley (R-28th District), passed the Senate 90-2-2. The bill now heads to Lee’s desk. The measure rewrites the criminal offense of female genital mutilation and extends the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions or civil actions for FGM.
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. Advocates were dismayed earlier this month when U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco announced that the Department of Justice would not appeal the Michigan 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.