Tougher Penalties for FGM
#EndFGMToday Calls on Senate to Pass House’s Bipartisan Bill to Triple Penalty from 5 to 15 Years; 24 States Still to Enact Laws
Washington, D.C.—Thanks to bipartisan action by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, the federal statutory penalties for inflicting the horrid practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) on little girls are a step closer to tripling—from 5 years to 15 years.
The “Stopping Abusive Female Exploitation” (SAFE) Act, which was introduced and championed by Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan, also calls on states to implement reporting requirements for suspected genital mutilation. Trott’s home state has seen the ravages of FGM as a result of disclosures in connection with the U.S. Justice Department’s prosecution of an interstate child-trafficking ring charged with mutilating 7-year-old girls.
A press release from Rep. Trott’s office highlighted the fact that United States’ current five-year penalty for perpetrators of FGM is significantly weaker than others imposed in the 59 nations that also prohibit this barbaric act of child-abuse. For example, the penalty in the United Kingdom is up to 14 years imprisonment and in France up to 20 years imprisonment.
The EndFGMToday initiative, led by attorney Elizabeth Yore, a former Illinois Assistant Attorney General and international child advocate, is urging the U.S. Senate now to follow suit now and pass the bill as well. Yore, who has spent 30 years in legal child advocacy and previously served as Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc. as Oprah Winfrey’s child advocate, says the time has come for Congress to implement tougher penalties for perpetrators of FGM.
“The unanimous House vote is evidence of the fact that protecting little girls from the horrors of FGM is a universal issue,” said Yore, who also served as general counsel for both the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Yore added: “FGM is a growing threat in the United States and, as the federal government works to stop it, the 24 states that have yet to enact their own anti-FGM laws need to do so quickly. States from Arizona to Wisconsin already have laws on their books that criminalize this barbaric procedure, and several more are working on legislative measures. But every state in the union should stand with more than half-a-million girls and women across America, the Centers for Disease Control estimates, who are at risk of genital mutilation. FGM will no longer be able to operate in the shadows but, rather, be brought into the light and stopped once and for all.”
The American people can help achieve that goal by using the FBI’s FGM Hotline at (800) CALL-FBI or www.FBI.gov/FGM to help identify, apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of this terrible crime. Information about FGM can also be confidentially be shared via the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, which answers calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453).
Learn more at www.EndFGMToday.com and on social media at #EndFGMToday about FGM and efforts underway in the United States to stop it.