On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced legislation that would criminalize the transportation of young girls out of the United States to receive female genital mutilation (FGM) procedures. The Girls Protection Act would serve as a follow up to legislation passed in 1996 that outlawed the practice of FGM in the United States. The bill proposes fines and up to five years in prison for those who violate the law.
Senator Reid stated, “While it is difficult to know precisely how many girls in the United States are at risk of being subject to FGM, estimates from various sources suggest that approximately 200,000 women living in the United States have been, or are at risk, of being subject to FGM.”
Internationally, an estimated 100 million to 140 million women and girls have undergone an FGM procedure, with the practice widely being regarded as a human rights violation. The procedure, which involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia, is designed to decrease women’s sexual desire and is seen in many cultures as essential for a women’s suitability for marriage. The practice is also known to both increase the risk of HIV transmission and infant and maternal mortality rates.