Chairman Crowley Statement on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

February 6, 2017
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) released the following statement today in recognition of International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM):

Female genital mutilation is a violation of human rights and it affects girls right here in the United States. With more than 500,000 women in the U.S., and millions more around the world, living in fear of this terrifying practice, we must do everything we can to protect young girls and women from this harmful practice.

“I firmly believe that ending FGM in a generation is an achievable goal, but it will take a commitment by the U.S. federal government, working together with our global partners, to meet this challenge. That’s why I introduced the Zero Tolerance for FGM Act that would create a national strategy to raise awareness, direct resources to where they are needed most, and better help those at risk here in the U.S. These are steps that must be taken if want to end FGM once and for all. 

“No girl should have to go through FGM, and I will never stop fighting until every girl — here and around the world— is safe from this violence.”

Chairman Crowley is a leader in Congress on fighting FGM, both in the U.S. and abroad. Banned in the U.S. since 1996, the World Health Organization defines the practice of FGM as, “procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is a harmful practice carried out on an estimated 125 million girls and women around the world. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that acknowledged FGM as a violation of human rights and called for countries to develop national strategies to end FGM. The same year, the U.S. Congress adopted the language of Chairman Crowley’s The Girls Protection Act, closing a critical loophole in U.S. law that allowed families to transport minors overseas for the purposes of FGM, finally putting the law firmly on the side of girls.

In 2015, Crowley and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) introduced the Zero Tolerance for FGM Act, legislation that requires the federal government to undertake a national study to provide data on and insight into the prevalence of FGM in the U.S. and establish a multi-agency strategy to bring the practice to an end. Such a strategy could include the establishment of an emergency hotline for girls seeking assistance; the provision of resources to help those on the frontlines, such as educators, healthcare workers, and law enforcement; implementation of a public awareness campaign; and appropriate funding to support these efforts.