United States: Stop FGM in the United States: Support the Girls Protection Act

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Date: 
24 May 2010

Female genital mutilation is a centuries-old harmful traditional practice that affects up to 140 million women and girls around the world. It 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. FGM involves the removal of various parts of female genitalia and is carried out across Africa, some countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as in locations where FGM-practicing immigrants reside, including the United States. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated in 1997 that over 168,000 girls and women living in the US have either been, or are at risk of being subjected to FGM.

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. Equality Now welcomes new legislation, the “Girls Protection Act” (H.R. 5137) co-sponsored by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) that will close this loophole and strengthen the 1996 federal law. The Crowley-Bono Mack extraterritoriality amendment or “vacation provision” introduced on April 26, 2010 would make it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the US out of the country for purposes of FGM.

There is an urgent need to protect girls who are in danger of suffering from this discriminatory practice. We urge the United States 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.

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What You Can Do: 

Please write to your representative urging them to support H.R. 5137. TAKE ACTION!

Letters: 

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Dear

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). FGM is a centuries-old harmful traditional practice that affects up to 140 million women and girls around the world. It 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. FGM involves the removal of various parts of female genitalia and is carried out across Africa, some countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as in locations where FGM-practicing immigrants reside, including the United States.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated in 1997 that over 168,000 girls and women living in the US have either been, or are at risk of being, subjected to FGM. 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” (H.R. 5137) co-sponsored by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. 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” introduced on 26 April 2010 would make it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the US out of the country for purposes of FGM. I urge you to support H.R. 5137 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