AHA Foundation Endorses Murt Bill to Criminalize Female Genital Mutilation
HARRISBURG—The AHA Foundation, a human rights organization founded by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, today endorsed legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia) to criminalize the act of female genital mutilation (FGM).

“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 this practice,” Murt said. “That’s why it is so important that the House pass my legislation.”

House Bill 413 would specifically make it a crime to cut or allow someone to circumcise or excise the genitals of a female minor. Under the bill, FGM would be a felony of the first degree.

“Twenty-six states have criminalized FGM,” said George Zarubin, executive director of the AHA Foundation. “But as it stands, Pennsylvania is still on the wrong side of history on FGM. The AHA Foundation supports Representative Murt and encourages Pennsylvania legislators to support the passage of HB413 criminalizing FGM.”

“We know from working with police, social services and community leaders that general aggravated assault laws are not sufficient to protect against FGM,” Zarubin said. “Parents wrongly believe they are doing the best for their child by inflicting FGM on them. There is no malicious intent required to prosecute assault. Legislating against FGM in Pennsylvania would give prosecutors the ability to prosecute at the state level. It would give teachers, doctors, police and social services the ability to investigate instances on FGM in their jurisdiction.”

The AHA Foundation was established by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in 2007 to promote liberty for all, including liberty from female genital mutilation, honor violence and forced marriages.

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.

FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, and it reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.

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.

“Women who are immigrants are at continued risk of the practice as these cultural beliefs follow them to the United States,” Murt said. “But we cannot stop this unless my legislation is passed into law.”

Representative Thomas P. Murt
152nd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster
RepMurt.com / Facebook.com/RepMurt

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