Equality Now calls on the United States Senate & House of Representatives to Pass the Girls Protection Act

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Date: 
12 Déc 2011

In May 2010, Equality Now issued an urgent alert calling on the United States House of Representatives to pass the “Girls Protection Act” (H.R. 5137) co-sponsored by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA). The legislation aimed at strengthening the 1996 federal law banning female genital mutilation (FGM) and would prohibit the act of transporting a girl abroad in order to subject her to FGM. However, this Act did not pass in Congress last year. It was reintroduced by Rep. Crowley and Rep. Bono Mack as HR 2221 in June 2011 and it is currently pending in the House. On 29 November 2011 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced a companion bill “Girls Protection Act of 2011” (S. 1919). This Reid extraterritoriality legislation or “vacation provision” also aims at closing the loophole in the federal law.

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This important legislation recognizes that there is an urgent need to protect girls in the United States who are in danger of suffering from this discriminatory practice. FGM is often performed when girls are taken to their parents’ country of origin during school breaks and this practice of taking girls overseas is commonly used to circumvent the law. Currently only Florida, Georgia and Senator Reid’s own state of Nevada have vacation provision laws making this practice a felony.

FGM is a centuries-old traditional practice that involves the partial or complete removal of female genitalia and causes lifelong physical and psychological harm. The WHO estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to FGM, which takes place throughout Africa, certain countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as in locations where FGM-practicing immigrants reside, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. According to an analysis of 2000 U.S. census data conducted by the African Women’s Health Center (AWHC) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, approximately 228,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk for FGM. The data also states that from 1990 to 2000, the number of women who are at risk for FGM grew by approximately 35 percent in this country.

In many African countries where this harmful cultural practice is carried out, vibrant anti-FGM movements are making remarkable headway toward eradicating FGM through awareness-raising, education and advocacy within their communities. In addition, several European countries have recognized the importance of addressing this form of gender-based violence and discrimination by enacting strong laws and policies to protect girls from FGM in all its forms.

Comment agir: 

We urge both the United States House of Representatives and Senate to take this critical step toward reaffirming that FGM, in all its forms, is a human rights violation. We also urge that culturally sensitive awareness-raising, education and outreach programs are put in place to protect girls living in the US from FGM. In this regard, Equality Now urges its Women’s Action Network members in the United States to call upon their members of Congress and Senators to cosponsor the pending legislation in both the House and Senate.

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Click here to find your Senators’ contact information. Click here to find your Congressperson’s contact information.

Please keep Equality Now updated on your work and send copies of any replies you receive to: info@equalitynow.org

Lettres: 

Dear Senator:

I am writing to express my deep concern about the common situation where girls are taken from the U.S. to their parents’ countries of origin to be subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. FGM is considered a severe human rights violation and the World Health Organization classifies the practice as a reflection of deep rooted inequality between the sexes and an extreme form of discrimination against women.

The WHO estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to FGM, which takes place throughout Africa, certain countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as in locations where FGM-practicing immigrants reside, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. According to an analysis of 2000 U.S. census data conducted by the African Women’s Health Center (AWHC) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, approximately 228,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk for FGM. The data also states that from 1990 to 2000, the number of women who are at risk for FGM grew by approximately 35 percent in this country. A 1996 federal law prohibiting the practice of FGM within the US did not address the risk of girls removed from the country, sometimes to their parents’ countries of origin, to be subjected to FGM.

I am aware that new legislation, the “Girls Protection Act of 2011” (S. 1919) introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) aims to close this loophole and strengthen the 1996 federal law. This legislation would make it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the US out of the country for purposes of FGM. As my United States Senator, I urge you to cosponsor S. 1919 and take this critical step toward reaffirming that FGM, in all its forms, is a human rights violation. I also urge you to support the implementation of culturally sensitive awareness-raising, education and outreach programs to protect girls living in the US from FGM.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely

Dear Congressperson:

I am writing to express my deep concern about the common situation where girls are taken to their countries of origin to be subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. FGM is considered a severe human rights violation and the World Health Organization classifies the practice as a reflection of deep rooted inequality between the sexes and an extreme form of discrimination against women.

The WHO estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to FGM, which takes place throughout Africa, certain countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as in locations where FGM-practicing immigrants reside, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. According to an analysis of 2000 U.S. census data conducted by the African Women’s Health Center (AWHC) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, approximately 228,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk for FGM. The data also states that from 1990 to 2000, the number of women who are at risk for FGM grew by approximately 35 percent in this country. A 1996 federal law prohibiting the practice of FGM within the US did not address the risk of girls removed from the country, sometimes to their parents’ countries of origin, to be subjected to FGM.

I am aware that the “Girls Protection Act” (HR 2221) co-sponsored by Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) aims to close this loophole and strengthen the 1996 federal law. The Crowley-Bono Mack extraterritoriality amendment or “vacation provision” would make it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the US out of the country for purposes of FGM. As my representative, I urge you cosponsor H.R. 2221 and take this critical step toward reaffirming that FGM, in all its forms, is a human rights violation. I also urge you to support the implementation of culturally sensitive awareness-raising, education and outreach programs to protect girls living in the US from FGM.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely