Three States Take Steps Toward Enacting Laws to Criminalize Female Genital Mutilation
EndFGMToday Shares Positive News That Idaho, South Carolina and Arkansas Lawmakers Have Introduced New Anti-FGM Bills
Washington, D.C.—Three more states have taken crucial steps to protect women and girls from the horrific and barbaric procedure of female genital mutilation (FGM).
The national EndFGMToday campaign is applauding lawmakers in Idaho, South Carolina and Arkansas who have introduced new legislation that would criminalize FGM in their states.
“The #EndFGMToday movement is very encouraged to see progress in several states regarding anti-FGM legislations thus far in 2019,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “We expect this will be the year that many states step up and take initiative to enact strong FGM legislation and protections. State laws criminalizing FGM are all the more crucial now, after Michigan District Judge Bernard Friedmann ruled that the federal FGM law was unconstitutional. In the process, serious charges against three alleged FGM perpetrators awaiting trial in Detroit were dismissed. States are now realizing they must enact their own laws to protect their girls from this travesty.”
First, the Idaho House of Representatives passed HB 114 to prohibit FGM in the state. The bill adds a section to the Idaho code that performing female genital mutilation on a child will be a felony, punishable by up to life in prison, the Idaho State Journal reported. HB 114 is sponsored by Reps. Priscilla Giddings and Caroline Nilsson Troy and now heads to the Idaho Senate.
Then in South Carolina, an anti-FGM bill sponsored by Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford passed out of its first committee unanimously. FGM survivor Kadi Doumbia of Mali testified before the sub-committee about the need for the law in the state. H 3973 now heads to the House Committee on Judiciary.
Finally, in Arkansas, Sen. Breanne Davis’ bill, SB 318, to prohibit female genital mutilation passed the State Senate 34-0. The bill also creates awareness programs and statistical tracking of unlawful FGM and will advance to the House judiciary committee.
Late last month, North Carolina introduced Senate Bill 9, which would make performing FGM in North Carolina a Class C felony—with a 44- to 182-month prison sentence—and would also penalize those who consent to the procedure, such as a parent or guardian.
Ohio became the 28th state to outlaw FGM when legislators voted in favor of an FGM bill in December and Gov. John Kasich signed it into law in January. Almost half the states in the nation, however, have not instituted laws to criminalize the barbaric procedure of FGM, which is performed on girls as young as 7 years old and leaves physical and emotional scars for a lifetime.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 500,000 women and girls are at risk for FGM in the U.S. 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.