In March of 2017, JCRC’s Public Policy Committee endorsed legislation banning female genital mutilation (FGM) as consistent with our values and policies to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of girls and women in the Commonwealth. House Bill 2333 and Senate Bill 788,  cosponsored by 50% of the legislature, would create a program for education, prevention and outreach for communities that practice FGM, requires mandated reporters to inform the Department of Children and Families (DCF) if a child has suffered from physical or emotional injury resulting from FGM, and criminalizes the acts of committing FGM on a child or taking a child in or out of the Commonwealth to commit FGM or to permit another to commute FGM. JCRC has offered testimony to the chairs of the Judiciary Committee in support of the legislation.

Senator William Brownsberger, Chair
Joint Committee on the Judiciary
24 Beacon Street, Room 504
Boston, MA 02133

 

cc: Representative Claire Cronin, Chair
Joint Committee on the Judiciary
24 Beacon Street, Room 136
Boston, MA 02133

 

Dear Representative Cronin and Senator Brownsberger,

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) strongly supports An Act to Protect Girls From Genital Mutilation (H2333 and S788) and respectfully urges you to support the bills to ban Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Massachusetts.

FGM involves removing part or all of a girl’s healthy sex organs and surrounding tissue for non-medical reasons, often resulting in serious health consequences, the risk of death in childbirth, and lifelong trauma. There are no health benefits to this practice. Girls who are subjected to FGM are commonly between the ages of four and ten years old.  The procedure is typically performed without anesthesia, using a knife or razor.

According to a recent CDC study, half a million women and girls living in the United States have been mutilated or are at risk of FGM. Fourteen thousand such women and girls reside in Massachusetts. Some of these girls are in danger of being mutilated either in this country or back in the country they or their parents emigrated from. In some communities, even if parents do not want to continue the practice of FGM, the social pressures from others in their community can force parents to subject their girls to FGM.

This bill will act as a preventative tool for families who want to end this practice but remain afraid of social pressures to do so. Also, the bill will provide for community-wide education on the harmfulness of FGM. Twenty-four states have laws banning FGM.  Massachusetts is not one of them.  We need this law now to protect our girls and to send a strong message that the practice of FGM is not tolerated in Massachusetts.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Adam Suttin
President, JCRC