US: Protect women and girls from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Learn more about FGM in the United States

1 AUGUST 2017 UPDATE: In July, Michigan became the 26th state to enact anti-FGM laws! The legislation was introduced after the state became the site of the first ever FGM arrests under US federal law. The legislation criminalizes FGM and "vacation cutting" (the transportation of girls outside state lines to subject them to FGM). It also goes a step further by increasing the statute of limitations for survivors to bring charges and by establishing education and training outreach programs. We are encouraged to see Michigan embracing a holistic approach to eradicate FGM and to protect women and girls!


In the US, approximately 513,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM). Women and girls may be subjected to FGM before moving to the US. But if they’re born in the US, they could also be in serious danger of being subjected to it during vacations to their families’ countries of origin -- a practice known as “vacation cutting.” With schools closed for the summer, we’re in the middle of this dangerous “cutting season” - which makes your action today even more important.

Federal US laws and policies outlaw FGM and “vacation cutting” and recognize FGM as an extreme form of child abuse and violence against women and girls. Many US agencies have made strides to end FGM, but more must be done to protect at-risk women and girls at the national and state level.

To eliminate FGM in the US, we’re calling for a comprehensive strategy that unites government agencies, survivors and local organizations; provides FGM prevention education as well as support services for survivors at federal, state and local levels; and provides for continued funding. A growing number of states are outlawing FGM at the state level, but we’re advocating for more to follow suit.

Join Equality Now and Safe Hands for Girls in calling on the US Department of Health and Human Services to ensure efforts to address FGM are sustainable in the long-term!

TAKE ACTION! Help protect girls in the US from FGM.

If you live in the United States, check our map to see whether your state has a law against FGM. If not, please contact your state representatives and urge them to enact laws and policies in line with the federal anti-FGM law. Find your state representatives and use our letter below, or one of your own.

Letter to state representatives:

Dear   ,

Please stand up for women and girls in your state by ensuring that laws protect them from female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM - the cutting or removal of external female genitalia for nonmedical reasons - violates girls’ and women’s rights to equality, life, security, dignity and freedom from discrimination and torture. However, according to a 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, up to 513,000 girls and women in the US have undergone or are at risk of being subjected to FGM.

US laws and policies recognize FGM as a human rights violation, child abuse and an extreme form of violence against girls and women. Federal laws prohibit performing FGM in the US as well as transporting girls out of the country to undergo FGM (known as “vacation cutting”). A growing number of states have a law against FGM, though not all of them have closed the “vacation cutting” loophole.

It is critical that all states enact legislation against both, supported by education and awareness raising among child protection, child welfare and medical specialists to protect women and girls in the US who are at risk of FGM or who are living with its consequences.

I call on you to review your state’s legislation to ensure your state’s law is in line with federal law and that your state’s policies provide for education, awareness raising, protection and support for affected women and girls. If your state does not have a law, please enact strong legislation against this human rights violation as a matter of priority. This will send a strong message that your state is committed to protecting human rights by preventing child abuse and violence against women and girls.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Learn more about FGM in the United States