Congressman Scott Perry Offers Legislative Fix to Strengthen Nationwide FGM/C Ban
Washington, June 28, 2019
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Scott Perry (R-PA) offered legislation to criminalize the barbaric and subjugating practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). The legislative proposal, the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2019, was introduced following a case in Michigan that declared the 1996 federal law unconstitutional.
“Over 200 million little girls are at risk of being subjected to this horrific practice worldwide, with over a half million right here in the United States - heartbreaking statistics by any measure. We must be abundantly clear that this cultural practice has no medical benefit and won’t be tolerated in the United States of America,” said Perry. “I extend my great thanks to House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA) for supporting my bill, and for his willingness to confront this issue directly. I also sincerely thank Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) for his early support of legislation even prior to this bill.”
“FGM/C is a horrific practice that has no place in our world. This barbaric procedure forever harms women, both physically and psychologically. Congress can protect young girls through the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2019, which would help put an end to this cruel violation of basic human rights. I appreciate the leadership of Congressman Perry on this important issue,” said Congressman Doug Collins.
“Too many girls throughout the country have been traumatized by the horrific practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C). Tragically, the number of victims will continue to increase if we do not make certain that those who carry out such a grisly barbarity are held accountable under criminal statutes. The Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2019 will make much needed changes to the current law to ensure successful future prosecutions of those who perform FGM. This barbaric form of abuse is a human rights violation, and women and girls who may fall victim to such a heinous practice need to be safeguarded,” said Congressman Louie Gohmert.
Dr. Jumana Nagarwala is alleged to have performed the practice on more than 100 girls at a clinic in Livonia, Michigan. The Nagarwala case was the first since the 1996 federal statute was enacted, to bring charges against someone in the U.S. for performing FGM/C. Subsequently, the federal statute was ruled unconstitutional by an Eastern District Court Judge in Michigan in 2018, on the grounds that under the current federal law, FGM/C did not substantially affect interstate commerce – and thus is beyond the constitutional authority of Congress.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) sent Congress a suggested legislative fix to establish a stronger connection between the practice of FGM/C and its effect on interstate commerce, which will ensure successful future prosecution.
Perry’s bill, the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2019, provides six (6) circumstances where FGM/C affects interstate commerce, which include occasions wherein:
1. the defendant or victim travels in interstate or foreign commerce to commit FGM/C;
2. the defendant uses a means of interstate commerce in connection with FGM/C;
3. payment is made in or affecting interstate/foreign commerce in furtherance of FGM/C;
4. an offer or other communication is made in furtherance of FGM/C;
5. conduct occurs within U.S. special maritime and territorial jurisdiction, or within the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory; and
6. when FGM/C otherwise occurs in or affects interstate or foreign commerce.
“FGM/C is an abuse against the most vulnerable. We owe it to these little girls – and women - to protect them, and that means we give our law enforcement community the tools to hold those perpetrators accountable. Upgrading the federal statute is a start,” Perry concluded.
According to a 2016 report from the Center for Disease Control an estimated 513,000 girls and women are at risk or have been subjected to FGM/C in the United States. Around the world today, more than 200 million girls and women have been mutilated, with an estimated 3 million more annually at risk.
The legislation was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on June 28, 2019, where it awaits consideration.
Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is sponsoring companion legislation in the Senate.