HARRISBURG—The House has passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia) to criminalize the act of female genital mutilation (FGM).
“This is a major victory for women of Pennsylvania,” Murt said. “My colleagues have taken a strong stand for the right to be safe from this kind of abuse. And, yes, despite its common practice in some cultures, FGM is a crime of violence against women.”
House Bill 315
would specifically make it a crime to cut or allow someone to circumcise or excise the genitals of a female minor. Under the bill, FGM would be a felony of the first degree.
The bill has been endorsed by the AHA Foundation, established by human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali in 2007 to promote freedom from FGM, honor violence and forced marriages.
The World Health Organization estimates that 140 million women and children worldwide have been affected by female genital cutting.
According to the AHA Foundation, more than 500,000 women in the United States are at risk of this procedure—166,000 women under age 18. The organization ranks Pennsylvania 11th in the nation, with more than 19,000 women at risk for the procedure, 6,000 of them under the age of 18.
FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, and it reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.
The procedure is almost always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.
The bill now moves to the Senate.
Representative Thomas P. Murt
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster