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Strengthening the Opposition to Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2020

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 21, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 1600, the Stop FGM Act of 2020.

This bill outlaws a practice that is recognized internationally as a human rights violation, and even torture. It is an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. Unfortunately, half a million girls and women worldwide are subject to this torture or at risk for it.

I am sure most people assumed that FGM was already illegal. It was.

In 1996, Congress prohibited the practice of FGM. But in 2018, a Federal judge in Michigan dismissed charges against a doctor and others from a local Indian Dawoodi Bohra community involved in the mutilation of nine young girls. The judge ruled that the Federal Government does not have the power to regulate FGM.

Since that time, the Justice Department has been able to stop these acts of violence against America's young girls.

This bill will amend title 18 to make FGM that is performed for nonmedical reasons a crime and overturn the judge's decision by explicitly describing the constitutional basis for banning FGM under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

Mr. Speaker, I think all my colleagues can come together and support this important bipartisan bill, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 6100.


Mr. Speaker, I emphasize that the practice of FGM violates girls' and women's rights to sexual and reproductive health, security, and physical integrity, their right to be free from torture and cruel or inhumane or degrading treatment, and their right to life when the procedure results in death.

Let me be very clear: This is international, but it is happening in the United States, and I think it is important for this Nation to stand up to this dastardly act.

According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation. Further, there are an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.

And because of the manner in which female genital mutilation is being practiced in the United States, it affects interstate and foreign commerce, the regulation which the Constitution entrusts in the Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3.

Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful to the Committee on the Judiciary's staff for working together with me and my office, making this legislation a real fix. Therefore, Congress has the authority under the Commerce Clause, as well as the necessary and proper clause contained in Article I, Section 8, to fix this, and that is what we have done.

Again, let me thank the chairman and ranking member of the full committee and of the subcommittees, and all of the Members, for supporting this legislation.

The STOP FGM Act is a critical measure to protect the health and safety of girls in our communities and to ensure that those who would engage in this horrific practice do not go unpunished.

This is bipartisan legislation, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation and voting to stop these dastardly acts.