Crucial Bill to Criminalize FGM in Maine Not Dead, Up for Vote in Senate on August 2—Pressure Now on House Democrats; #EndFGMToday
Washington, D.C.—There are few in America who would argue that mutilating the genitals of little girls is excusable. Yet, some lawmakers in Maine are preventing the criminalization of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the state.
Up for a vote is L.D. 745, a bill that would make FGM a crime in Maine. Previously, the bill has been passed unanimously in the Maine Senate, and is expected to pass again when the bill comes up for possible vote on Aug. 2. Contrary to public—and even some lawmaker—perception, the bill is not “dead” and, in fact, has overwhelming support. After a Senate vote, the challenge will be to resurrect the bill in the state House of Representatives.
“If Maine legislators fail to bring up this bill to criminalize the horrific and barbaric practice of female genital mutilation in Maine, their inaction will betray girls and women in the state. By so doing, they risk making the state’s new brand ‘Maine is for Mutilators,’” said Elizabeth Yore, head of a new initiative called End FGM Today. “Such inaction would condone one of the most hideous violations of human rights, according to the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Unfortunately, with the first federal prosecution of mutilators in Michigan, we are learning more about the breadth and depth of this scourge in America.
“Female genital mutilation mirrors the same covert pattern and explosion of victims and perpetrators seen in the underground network of human trafficking,” Yore continued. “Mutilators, like traffickers, operate in secrecy, identifying victims and moving them from state to state in order to effectuate this barbaric criminal assault. The criminal network conspires to link innocent victims with the perpetrators. They operate outside the law, bypassing normal confines of society and trade in hideous violations of human rights.”
Yore added the trafficking of humans has been described as modern day slavery that robs individuals of freedom and dignity. Likewise, the FGM trafficking of little girls denies them their freedom to enjoy sexual pleasure as adults and subjects them to a life of physical pain and emotional trauma.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Heather Sirocki, is encouraging Maine citizens to take action in several ways before the vote on this critical bipartisan issue:
- Urge Speaker of the House Sara Gideon to bring L.D. 745 to vote in the House on Aug. 2. Contact Gideon at (207) 287-1300 or Sara.Gideon@legislature.maine.gov.
- Contact Democrat Representatives who are against passing L.D. 745: Jared Golden, Erin Herbig and Charlotte Warren.
- Create awareness about the horrors of FGM by visiting www.EndFGMToday.com or sharing this message on social media: “Maine, don’t allow our state to become a safe harbor for female genital mutilators! #EndFGMToday”
Find contact information for Maine lawmakers in both the Senate and the House here.
Those waffling on the bill are using the excuse that there is no need for a state-level prohibition of FGM, given that it is already a crime under federal statute. To the contrary, in testimony earlier this year on behalf of the Maine Prosecutors Association, Kennebec and Somerset Counties District Attorney Maeghan Maloney argued strongly that she and her colleagues need lawmakers in Augusta to adopt a state law criminalizing female genital mutilation.
Michigan recently passed a tough anti-FGM law as four individuals there face charges for the genital mutilation of at least six girls.
Learn more about what’s afoot in Maine and how you can help #EndFGMToday at www.EndFGMToday.com and on social media.