The United Nations Human Rights Committee (the UNHR Committee) recently adopted recommendations from The U.S. End FGM/C Network’s joint submission in partnership with Equality Now, the ERA Coalition, Unchained At Last, and the Alliance for Universal Digital Rights. Specifically, the UNHR Committee is “encouraging states to pass legislation that prohibits and criminalizes all forms of FGM and to effectively implement the Stop FGM Act”. This is a major milestone in advancing policy and advocacy for gender-based violence and FGM/C in the United States.
The United States still has 9 states without any laws specifically prohibiting FGM/C. For the other 41 states, the laws vary greatly ranging from comprehensive, holistic laws that were passed with survivor advocacy, to laws with harmful language targeted at immigrant communities. In addition to passing laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we need to ensure that all laws pertaining to FGM/C are holistic, comprehensive, and implemented to their fullest potential to prevent FGM/C, ensure services for survivors and, when necessary, prosecute perpetrators.
In addition, the federal Stop FGM Act of 2020 must also be fully implemented. The federal law requires the Attorney General to submit an annual report to Congress containing (1) an estimate of the number of women and girls in the United States at risk of or who have been subjected to female genital mutilation; (2) the protections available and actions taken, if any, by federal, state, and local agencies to protect such women and girls; and (3) the actions taken by Federal agencies to educate and assist communities and key stakeholders about female genital mutilation. Although the U.S. End FGM/C Network successfully advocated for access to the 2021 report and publicly released it on our website, we are yet to see the 2022 report, despite numerous requests. Congress must hold the Attorney General accountable to ensure that these reports, required by law, are compiled in a timely manner and are easily accessible to not only the U.S. End FGM/C Network, but the wider community as a whole.
These recommendations from the UNHR Committee highlight the need to continue the momentum to eliminate FGM/C in the US and ensure that women and girls human rights are upheld in this country. In addition to passing good laws in all 50 states and ensuring the federal law in fully implemented, we must continue to advocate for:
- Ensuring all laws in the U.S. pertaining to FGM/C are holistic, comprehensive, and have at their center the voices and experiences of survivors of FGM/C;
- Updating our current prevalence data in the U.S. using qualitative methods that do not rely entirely on immigration data, but rather accurately reflect the women and girls in the US who have experienced FGM/C and those at risk, including U.S.-born women and girls who undergo FGM/C or are at risk;
- Continue to frame FGM/C in a broad, intersectional manner, including framing FGM/C as a global issue; Increasing comprehensive education and training for service providers and duty bearers that combats myths and misconceptions about FGM/C, including the myth that FGM/C does not happen in the United States; and,
- Remain watchful and responsive to efforts to usurp FGM/C laws for other purposes.
About The Network
The U.S. End FGM/C Network is a collaborative group of over 200 members including FGM/C survivors, civil society organizations, foundations, activists, policy makers, researchers, healthcare providers, and others committed to promoting the abandonment of FGM/C in the U.S. and globally. To learn more about our work, please visit endfgmnetwork.org.