PUSH TO OUTLAW FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION IN PENNSYLVANIA
For immediate release: Monday 22 January 2018
Pennsylvania legislators are considering a bill to criminalize female genital mutilation to protect the 19,480 girls estimated to be at risk of FGM in the state.
“It is crucial that Pennsylvania legislators support House Bill 413 criminalizing FGM,” says Executive Director at the AHA Foundation, George Zarubin. “This bill will put Pennsylvania on the right side of history in regard to gender-based violence, along with 26 other states that have already criminalized the practice.”
Mr Zarubin and FGM survivor F.A. Cole are speaking in support of the legislation in Philadelphia on Monday morning, 22nd January.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a violation of women’s and girl’s human rights. It involves the removal of part, or all, of a girl’s external genitalia in an effort to control her sexual appetite.
Various types of FGM range from pricking the genital area to removing or cutting external tissue including the clitoris, inner and outer labia and sewing or narrowing the opening leaving only a small hole for menstruation and urination. FGM has no health benefits. Many girls who undergo FGM face lasting physical and psychological consequences.
“Pennsylvania must wake up to the scale and urgency of this problem,” says Mr Zarubin. “The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 513,000 girls are at risk or have undergone of FGM in the United States. Population Reference Bureau data estimates 19,480 of those girls live in Pennsylvania.”
“FGM is outlawed at the federal level but gaps in the legislation require state legislation,” says Mr Zarubin, a human rights expert and lawyer. “We know from working with police, social services and community leaders that existing laws are not sufficient to prevent FGM. Legislating against FGM in Pennsylvania would give prosecutors the ability to prosecute at the state level. It would give doctors, police and social services the ability to investigate instances on FGM in their jurisdiction.”
George Zarubin, Executive Director of the AHA Foundation is available for interview.