This summer, the AHA Foundation formed and led a bipartisan network of women’s organizations and survivor/advocates to push for the inclusion of comprehensive measures to protect women and girls in the United States from female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of the federal reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
For the past 24 years, VAWA has directed funding and attention to nationwide programs that protect women from violence. But it has given zero attention to the plight of more than 500,000 women and girls who have undergone or are at risk of FGM in the U.S. This federal act requires reauthorization every five years and expires this September. Now is the time to act to ensure that FGM in the U.S. is no longer ignored and is added to this legislation to protect vulnerable girls.
Our network wrote a joint letter and on August 23rd, 2018, we began sending it out to Congressional leaders, urging them to include the following holistic measures to end FGM in the United States as part of the reauthorization of VAWA:
- Increase the federal penalty for FGM from five years to 15 years, which is more in line with other Western nations and acts as a strong deterrent to families who would have their girls cut.
- Allow funding to be directed to education and outreach programs for communities at risk of FGM. A holistic approach is necessary in order to end FGM in the U.S. through both criminalization of the practice and education and outreach.
- Allow funding to be directed to educating professionals working on the frontlines with women and girls at risk. Professionals such as teachers, doctors, midwives, and community leaders should be given training in identifying FGM survivors, as well as potential victims.
- Call upon Congress to ensure the recommendations from the Government Accountability Office’s 2016 Report is fully implemented. We specifically highlighted the report’s call for a unified governmental approach with inter-agency cooperation to prevent FGM. The federal government must work as a united front against FGM.
- Work with stakeholders to develop comprehensive model state FGM legislation.
Our bipartisan coalition includes the following organizations and survivors:
- AHA Foundation, a survivor-led organization that fights FGM in the U.S.
- Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
- F.A. Cole, survivor/advocate/speaker
- Independent Women’s Forum
- Independent Women’s Voice
- Sahiyo, a survivor-led organization that fights FGM in the U.S.
- Safe Hands for Girls, a survivor-led organization that fights FGM in the U.S.
- Survivor/advocate from Egypt
Find out who your national legislators are below: