Zonta Advocates Ending Female Genital Mutilation(FGM)

FGM, which comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights, health and integrity of girls and women. Complications from FGM endanger the physical and mental well-being of women and girls.

Zonta International believes FGM is a severe human rights violation that cannot be tolerated. Along with child marriage, it must be eliminated. (Link to statement)

“FGM and child marriage are both incredibly harmful to girls, women and their communities,” said Zonta International President Sharon Langenbeck. “Zonta endorses the Sustainable Development Goals and is committed to help end both of these practices by 2030.”

As of fall 2023, 41 States have laws against FGM, 

States which do not yet have laws against FGM:  Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, and New Mexico, in addition to the District of Columbia.

Equality Now and AHA foundation are Zonta collaborators to End FGM in the USA

What is the law in your state?   Find out here: https://www.equalitynow.org/us_laws_against_fgm_state_by_state/

What is the prevalence of FGM in the U.S.?

More detailed statistics on FGM are needed. In January 2016, in response to advocacy by Equality Now, Safe Hands for Girls, and other civil society partners, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study on the number of women and girls in the U.S. who are at risk of or have been subjected to FGM. According to it, the number is estimated to be 513,000, more than three times higher than an earlier estimate based on 1990 data.

FGM State by State

Currently, there is anti-FGM legislation in only 40 states, meaning that 10 STATES HAVE YET TO CRIMINALIZE FGM. The majority of states that do have FGM legislation can strengthen their legislation to further protect the girls in their state  –AHA Foundation.


FGM by State - Ban FGM in the USA

What makes Strong FGM Legislation?

From EndFGMToday Leader Elizabeth Yore,
Here are the elements that strong legislation should include:

“Strong FGM bills include five components,” Yore said. 

  • “These include prosecution for a practitioner, medical or otherwise, who carries out FGM; 
  • prosecution for parents or guardians who allow children to be subjected to FGM; 
  • prosecution for those who aid in facilitating FGM; 
  • provisions against ‘vacation cutting,’ or transporting girls to other countries or states for mutilation purposes; and 
  • provisions for education and outreach purposes.

The Federal STOP FGM Act Passed in 2020

The Zonta USA Caucus supported the STOP FGM Act of 2020 and asked its advocates to contact their legislators to pass the law. Though the practice was already outlawed in the United States, the language needed to be tightened. On 5 January 2021, it became law; it will empower federal authorities to prosecute people who carry out or conspire to carry out female genital mutilation in the United States and increases the maximum prison sentence from five to 10 years.


Support survivors of female genital mutilation

In the United States, approximately 513,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM), the partial or total removal of external female genitalia, or other injuries to the genital organs, for non-medical reasons.

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Model Legislation to End FGM

AHA Training on FGM

all pieces of legislation should follow an anti-FGM Model Legislation which includes the following criteria:

  • Prosecuting FGM has a felony and not as a misdemeanor.
  • Protecting minors and people under guardianship or conservatorship.
  • Prosecuting practitioners, parents, guardians and other individuals responsible for the care of minors and people under guardianship.
  • Increasing the sentencing period up to 20 years.
  • Moving burden of proof from survivors to investigators.
  • Creating civil actions for survivors.
  • Extending the status of limitation.
  • Penalizing vacation cutting.
  • Punishing medical professional by suspending or revoking their licenses permanently.
  • Introducing FGM information into mandatory sex education classes and general education panels to inform people about the risk associated with these practices.
  • Developing policies and procedures for the training providers of health services on recognizing the risk factors associated with FGM.
  • Introducing mandatory reporting for law enforcement and health care professionals, police personnel, among others.
  • Adopting federal and state FGM tracking system and annual statistical reporting.
– AHA foundation

FGM News and Updates

FGM In the USA – Equality Now

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The American Medical Association 2017: AMA: (1) condemns the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM); [...]