August Newsletter: Seven years of gridlock ended—FGM banned in Massachusetts, CTF kicks off new school year

I am so excited to write to you about our huge victory in Massachusetts. After seven years of gridlock, Massachusetts legislators finally passed a strong bill this month that bans female genital mutilation (FGM) within the state.
We’ve worked to support banning FGM in numerous other states, but this one has an especially big impact. This ban helps protect the more than 14,000 women and girls who were at risk or are living with FGM in Massachusetts.
To look back at the hurdles faced and share lessons learned from this fight, we spoke with Deborah Benson, Chairwoman of the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association Task Force on FGM, who tenaciously led the effort to ban FGM in the state. Read our interview here.
Our fight is far from over: 11 states and Washington D.C. still do not have laws in place that ban FGM. That leaves more than 42,000 women and girls estimated to be at risk or living with FGM in those remaining areas.These 11 states are also in jeopardy of becoming FGM destinations for trafficked girls around the country to be cut. Help support our efforts to completely ban FGM in any way you can: donate, share our message on social media, or contact your state representatives today.
It is back-to-school time and my family along with families across the U.S. are dealing with uncertainties and countless challenges. Our Critical Thinking Fellowship (CTF) campus program and its Fellows are no exception. Read here how Natalie Arroyo, our Campus Program Coordinator, along with 10 student-fellows at schools like the University of Notre Dame and Columbia University have reimagined cultivating critical thinking and defending free speech in a completely virtual setting.
The work of CTF is more important than ever because free speech and critical thinking—core American values—are currently under threat from ‘cancel culture.’ Proponents of cancel culture publicly shame and dismiss people with ideas that differ from their own. Because of your support, our CTF program continues to make a difference in this fight.
Despite the unexpected challenges we all face, we’ve made great strides so far this year. With your help, we look forward to matching that success in the coming months.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder