Provides a person is guilty of female genital mutilation when a person removes or causes the removal of a person less than 18 years old from the state for the purpose of circumcising, excising or infibulating female genitalia.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, in relation to female genital mutilation
PURPOSE: To strengthen current law to address female genital mutilation through "vacation cutting" in which young women are sent out of state to undergo the procedure
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one amends subdivision 1 of section 130.85 of the penal law, as amended by chapter 618 of the laws of 1997, to provide that a person who knowingly removes or causes the removal of a person less than 18 years old from this State for the purpose of circumcising, excising, or infibulating the whole or any part of the female genitalia of such person is guilty of female genital mutilation.
Section two provides the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to a harmful traditional practice primarily on girls under the age of 18 and that consists of procedures performed on the female genitalia without a medical purpose. FGM ranges from clitoridectomy, the removal of part or all of the clitoris, to infibulation, in which all of the outer genitalia are removed and the vagina is sealed, often with stitches, except for a small opening.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 140 million women and girls around the world are currently living with the consequences of FGM. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated in 1997 that 150,000 to 200,000 girls and women in the United States were at risk of being forced to undergo FGM; based on 2000 U.S. census data, between 1990 and 2000, the number of girls and women in the United States at risk for FGM increased by 35 percent. In 2000, New York was ranked second in the country (after California) with the greatest estimated numbers of girls and women at risk of FGM,. When ranked by metropolitan areas with the greatest numbers of girls and women at risk, the New York metropolitan area (including parts of Connecticut and Pennsylvania) came in first. In 2000, the number of girls in New York under the age of eighteen at risk of FGM was estimated at 7,675.
Typically, girls are most at risk of FGM if they are part of a community originally from a country where FGM is prevalent. FGM is prevalent in 28 countries in Africa and countries in the Middle East and Asia. Cases of FGM occur in every location in which immigrant FGMpracticing families settle, such as New York. FGM is usually performed on girls before the age of 15, but the specific age varies by region, local custom, and ethnic group, and in many countries, the average age is reported to be falling, with some girls subjected to the practice within the first few weeks or months of life.
Despite current law prohibiting FGM, every year girls in our State remain at risk of facing imminent danger of FGM when the procedure is carried out either in covert and illegal ceremonies within the State or in traditional ceremonies overseas. In the former instance, girls are subjected to FGM by traditional practitioners who have been
brought in from overseas to preside over covert ceremonies where an entire group of girls are subjected to the procedure within a short period of time. In the latter instance, families send girls overseas, often to their parents' countries of origin, to undergo FGM. After FGM in the State was criminalized in 1997, we have learned from, among other things, testimony of survivors, that families are increasingly engaging in this practice, known as "vacation cutting." Family members send their female children overseas to undergo FGM during school vacations, as part of a trip organized to expose the girls to the customs of their ancestral homelands, and thereby avoid criminal prosecution in this State.
These children are sent overseas for FGM without their consent, and, as reported in the New York Times, in some cases without the knowledge or permission of one or both of their parents. See "After School in Brooklyn, West African Girls Share Memories of a Painful Ritual," by Nadia Sussman, New York Times, April 25, 2011. Although there are thousands of women living in the State who have been subjected to FGM and who wish to protect their daughters from the same fate, controlling spouses, elder relatives and community members exert overriding authority over these women's wishes.
A persistent misconception about FGM is that the procedure is required by religion, particularly Islam. However, a multi-country survey conducted by the WHO reveals that the perceived link between FGM and religion may in fact be only a reformulation of control over a women's sexuality and a form of gender-based violation and discrimination. FGM is a 5,000 year-old harmful cultural practice that appears to predate any religion. FGM is neither prescribed by any religion nor is it particular to any religious group. FGM is prevalent among communities of different religious backgrounds, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, and followers of traditional animist religions. FGM is, among many groups, performed to preserve a girl's virginity or to control her sexuality, or is a prerequisite to marriage.
FGM, however, creates lifelong physical and psychological damage, including extensive bleeding, infection, painful menstruation and complications during childbirth, and sexual and psychological complications. The sexual and psychological impact of the practice cannot be understated, nor considered secondary to its physical impact; the consequences survivors suffer are typically complex, interlinked and often irreversible. Moreover, some women are reported to be apprehensive about seeking medical care because they fear their doctors' reaction.
This legislation will bring New York law into alignment with federal law, the "Transport for Female Genital Mutilation" amendment, enacted in January this year. The amendment added an "extraterritoriality" provision or "vacation provision," as it has been called, which criminalizes the act of transporting girls abroad with the purpose of subjecting them to FGM.
With enactment of this legislation, we will enhance our ability to protect girls at risk of FGM by proscribing the removal of girls from the State for the purposes of FGM, as well as encourage service providers and State agencies to develop protocols on the identification, prevention and protection of girls at risk of being
removed from the State for the purpose of FGM during school vacations as well as other periods during the year.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2014: S5518A Passed Senate/A7320-A Referred to Codes
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the State.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 3484 2015-2016 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 10, 2015 ___________Introduced by Sen. LANZA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to female genital mutilation THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 130.85 of the penal law, as added by chapter 618 of the laws of 1997, is amended to read as follows: 1. A person is guilty of female genital mutilation when: (a) a person knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not reached eighteen years of age;
[or](b) being a parent, guardian or other person legally responsible and charged with the care or custody of a child less than eighteen years old, he or she knowingly consents to the circumcision, excision or infi- bulation of whole or part of such child's labia majora or labia minora or clitoris [.]; OR (C) A PERSON KNOWINGLY REMOVES OR CAUSES THE REMOVAL OF A PERSON LESS THAN EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD FROM THIS STATE FOR THE PURPOSE OF CIRCUMCISING, EXCISING, OR INFIBULATING, THE WHOLE OR ANY PART OF THE LABIA MAJORA OR LABIA MINORA OR CLITORIS OF SUCH PERSON. S 2. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD00542-01-5