HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today unanimously approved legislation authored by Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia) that would specifically criminalize the act of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Commonwealth.
“This has been an issue I have been passionately working on for a few years,” said Murt. “Our current laws are simply not sufficient to protect women from this barbaric practice. My legislation would make FGM a first-degree felony under the law and bring Pennsylvania in line with the 26 other states that have already criminalized FGM.”
FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. 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.
In 2008, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution about the elimination of this practice, emphasizing the need for concerted action from health care providers and law enforcement to stop the practice of FGM. In addition, the AHA Foundation, which was established in 2007 to promote liberty for all, including liberty from female genital mutilation, honor violence and forced marriages, supports House Bill 2526.
Murt’s House Bill 2526
would specifically make it a crime to cut or allow someone to circumcise or excise the genitals of a female minor.
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 barbaric procedure – 166,000 of 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.
“My legislation would grant women the protection they deserve from the torturous and life-threatening practice of FGM,” said Murt. “Although a difficult topic for most people to talk about and admit takes place, we need to confront this evil practice head on and hold those who commit this crime responsible.
“I am pleased to have the support of my colleagues in the House who recognize the need for this legislation,” continued Murt. “I am hopeful in the limited days we have left this session that the state Senate will pass the bill and send it to the governor to be signed into law.”
Representative Thomas P. Murt
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster