U.S. Representative Scott Perry (PA-10) applauded the passage of legislation in the House today that changed our criminal code to ensure the successful future prosecution of those who perpetrate Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C).
“FGM/C is an especially heinous practice that has impacted the lives of over 200 million women and girls alive today, including thousands in the United States. Our Nation has lacked a functional federal criminal statute banning the practice – a gap that’s wholly unacceptable and endangers the lives of innocent girls,” said Congressman Scott Perry. “Since the day the federal law was struck down in November 2018, I’ve worked on a bipartisan basis to raise awareness of FGM/C and reinstitute a federal ban. I’m truly relieved that the House passed legislation today that included much of the language from my legislation, H.R. 3583 – the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act. We are one step closer to protecting women and girls from FGM/C in the United States, and ensuring those who perpetrate this barbarism are held accountable.”
In April 2017, a Michigan-based doctor was arrested for performing FGM/C on nine known victims – the first ever federal charges for this abhorrent practice in the United States. Nineteen months after the original indictment, a U.S. District Judge ruled the federal statute unconstitutional on grounds that as the law was written, FGM/C did not substantially affect interstate commerce – and thus is beyond the constitutional power of Congress under the Commerce Clause. Following this decision, Perry introduced H.R. 3583, which enumerated six circumstances where FGM/C affects interstate commerce and would allow the Department of Justice to prosecute future FGM/C crimes.
FGM/C comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The international community, including the United Nations, recognizes FGM/C as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The World Health Organization asserts that there are no health benefits of the practice and the procedure can have severe long-term impacts on the physical, psychological, sexual, and reproductive health of girls and women. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control published a report estimating that 513,000 girls and women in the United States were at risk or may have been victimized by FGM/C.
The legislation passed by the House today, H.R. 6100, will head to the Senate for consideration.
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