Today, FGM/C is banned under federal law, yet, only 26 states in the U.S. have laws against it. Massachusetts is not one of them. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that over half a million girls and women in the United States are at risk. Massachusetts ranks 12th in the nation for at-risk populations with an estimated 14,591 women and girls. Since 2012, the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association has tried to advocate over and over again for a state law criminalizing FGM/C. Yet, to this day, no law has been put into place. The current bills, S.788, and H.2333 have been sent to a committee for study and most likely will not move forward either.
In an effort to raise more awareness on the issue and to prompt community action to encourage Massachusetts state legislature to pass such a law, Mariya Taher, Aisha Yusuf (both survivors of FGM/C) and Hanna Stern (an advocate against FGM/C), started a change.org petition calling on Governor Charlie Baker, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, and President of the Senate Harriette Chandler, to take action and protect all girls in Massachusetts, as FGM/C is nearly always carried out on minors, is a violation of the rights of children, and reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes that constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.
Massachusetts needs a bill that unequivocally reiterates that female genital mutilation/cutting is a form of violence. There are laws against domestic violence and sexual assault. We need a law against FGM/C as well.
- Sign Ban FGM in Massachusetts Change.org Petition
- Learn Advocacy Tips on Writing a Letter to Your Legislator or Governor
- Read Mariya’s op-ed – ‘Why Won’t Massachusetts Pass a Law to Stop FGM’
Learn which U.S. states have FGM/C laws.