SOUTH CAROLINA, (FOX Carolina) -- South Carolina has become the 32nd state in the nation to criminalize the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Gov. Henry McMaster signed H. 3973 into law yesterday.
Right here in the U.S., reports the national EndFGMToday campaign, over half a million girls, as young as the age of 5, are at risk for the brutal and unnecessary procedure.
The South Carolina bill was introduced by Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford and moved quickly through the legislative process—evidence that state lawmakers were committed to protecting women and girls in South Carolina from this cruel practice that is a form of child abuse, said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday.
“The fact that 32 states have criminalized FGM is amazing news,” Yore said, “and a testament to the fact that legislators realize FGM has no place in their states. We applaud South Carolina for taking a stance for its women and girls by making FGM a felony punishable to up to 20 years in prison. The mutilation of little girls’ genitals defies all standards of humanity and cries out as a hideous violation of human rights, according to the United Nations and World Health Organization. Legislators in South Carolina realize this and have boldly taken decisive steps to protect girls from this horrible practice that leaves both physical and emotional scars for a lifetime.”
H. 3973 was co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of two dozen lawmakers and will make “attempting, performing or facilitating the practice (of FGM) on a minor under the age of 18, or an incapacitated adult, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison or a $20,000 fine, or both,” according to TheState.com.
According to the Population Reference Bureau, nearly 1,400 women and girls in South Carolina are at risk for FGM, Yore noted. Furthermore, the PRB foundthat the Charlotte/Concord/Gastonia region of North and South Carolina is also a top metropolitan area in the nation for FGM risk.
EndFGMToday has asserted many times that state laws criminalizing FGM are all the more crucial now, after a Michigan judge ruled that the federal FGM law was unconstitutional. In the process, serious charges against three alleged FGM perpetrators awaiting trial in Detroit were dismissed. The U.S. government has declined to appeal the decision.
Yore also noted that female genital mutilation is recognized by both the World Health Organization and the United Nations as a human rights violation perpetrated upon little girls and women. Over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to this cruel practice, and the CDC estimates that 513,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation in the United States.