United States: Protect women and girls from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
17 OCTOBER 2019 UPDATE: The Federal government has refused to appeal the ruling in the Michigan case, which found the federal FGM law unconstitutional. In order to fix this and protect girls and women in the U.S. from FGM, Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee and Republican Representative Don Bacon will introduce a new bipartisan bill called “Strengthening Opposition to Female Genital Mutilation Act” or the “Stop FGM Act.” This bill amends 18 U.S. Code § 116 to clarify the criminalization of the female genital mutilation, and adds important provisions including an updated definition of FGM, clarification of who is accountable under the law, and a reporting requirement for federal agencies, in addition to linking FGM to interstate and foreign commerce.
20 NOVEMBER 2018 UPDATE: U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled to dismiss charges brought in Michigan against two doctors and six others accused of subjecting nine girls to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). As a member of the steering committee of the United States End FGM Network, Equality Now is deeply disappointed and concerned about this ruling. Read our response here.
13 SEPTEMBER 2018 UPDATE: In July, New Hampshire adopted a law criminalizing FGM! This new law also contains a “vacation provision” which prohibits the practice of transporting girls outside of the state in order to undergo FGM. We applaud the New Hampshire legislature on taking this important step towards protecting the rights of women and girls!
1 AUGUST 2017 UPDATE: In July, Michigan became the 26th state to enact anti-FGM laws! The legislation was introduced after the state became the site of the first ever FGM arrests under US federal law. The legislation criminalizes FGM and "vacation cutting" (the transportation of girls outside state lines to subject them to FGM). It also goes a step further by increasing the statute of limitations for survivors to bring charges and by establishing education and training outreach programs. We are encouraged to see Michigan embracing a holistic approach to eradicate FGM and to protect women and girls!
In the US, approximately 513,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM). Women and girls who were born in the US may be subjected to FGM here or even during vacations to their families’ countries of origin -- a practice known as “vacation cutting.”
To eliminate FGM in the US, we’re calling for a comprehensive strategy that unites government agencies, survivors and local organizations; provides FGM prevention education as well as support services for survivors at federal, state and local levels; and provides for continued funding. A growing number of states are outlawing FGM at the state level, but we’re advocating for more to follow suit.
Federal policies recognize FGM as a form of child abuse and violence against women and girls. But the current federal FGM law is in limbo after the decision in the Michigan case that found the current law unconstitutional. While we do not agree with the court decision, it is urgent that Congress take steps to amend the law so that is can withstand any future court challenges and provide girls with strong protections against FGM. ,
Join Equality Now and the the US End FGM/C Network in urgently calling on leadership of the House Judiciary Committee to pass the Stop FGM Act and on the US Department of Health and Human Services to ensure efforts to address FGM are in all HHS child protection programs and within the Children’s Bureau.