The Eyes of the Nation are on Maine
Female Genital Mutilation is happening in Maine. The time is now to #EndFGMToday and protect little girls from this barbaric practice. Will Maine lawmakers stand up for their youngest residents?
By Elizabeth Yore
The eyes of the nation are on the Maine legislature, which has inexplicably been reluctant to protect little girls from the criminal assault that is female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM is happening all across the United States, and in fact, Maine has been identified by the federal government as one of the top eight high-risk states for FGM.
Despite this frightening and disturbing fact, there is an ongoing battle in the Maine legislature over whether to criminalize FGM, as some lawmakers are resisting efforts to make this heinous and brutal practice a crime.
Why a battle? Why resistance? The mutilation of little girls’ genitals defies all standards of humanity, and cries out as a hideous violation of human rights according to the UN and World Health Organization. And the CDC estimates that more than 513,000 girls are at risk of FGM in the United States!
Yet, some Maine legislators are bowing to the dictates of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which opposes criminalizing FGM. Why are Maine legislators listening to the irrational and callous demands of the ACLU on this very necessary bill, rather than to the cries of little girls who undergo this painful and barbaric procedure—the effects of which last a lifetime? Shockingly, a lawyer and policy director at the ACLU in Maine, Oamshri Amarasingham, has said of FGM: “the risk of mutilation isn’t worth expanding Maine’s criminal code.”
Will Maine’s elected officials stand up and protect little girls from one of the nation’s fastest growing human rights violations? Or will they bow to the edicts of the ACLU, which is using its money and power to lobby heavily against the crime of FGM? Will lawmakers really fail to act to protect their constituents on the false pretense that FGM is not happening in Maine, or the excuse that federal law already covers this heinous act?
Why take the chance that even one little girl will endure pain, trauma and both physical and emotional scars for life if she doesn’t have to?
The state of Michigan recently passed a comprehensive and tough anti-FGM package, which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. Michigan sent a strong message that this criminal assault on little girls will not be tolerated. Will Maine follow Michigan and 24 other states and protect little girls from FGM?
If you are a Maine legislator, please stand up and speak for these young girls and women on July 20, when L.D. 745, a bill that would make female genital mutilation a crime in Maine, could come up for a vote. If you are a resident of Maine, contact your lawmakers to urge them to vote for this important law to protect girls from the horrors of FGM.
Maine must join a growing list of states that are criminalizing the barbaric child sexual assault of female genital mutilation. Little girls in Maine are watching and waiting for justice for merciless mutilators—and the eyes of the nation are on Maine as well, as more states consider strong actions against FGM.
Surely, the will of Maine citizens is to ensure that mutilators are prosecuted and that FGM will not be tolerated in their state. If Maine lawmakers won’t stand up to this barbaric practice, Maine may become a safe harbor for female genital mutilators.
Will the beautiful and scenic harbors of Maine be forgotten as Maine becomes a safe harbor for mutilators of little girls?
Is this the Maine way?
(Elizabeth Yore is an international child rights advocate and head of the new initiative EndFGMToday.com.)