Mr. CROWLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the provisions of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that ban the overseas transport of a minor for the purposes of female genital mutilation, or FGM.
This language mirrors the bipartisan Girls Protection Act, legislation I authored and introduced in the 111th and 112th Congresses.
FGM is an issue that isn't always easy to talk about, and one that has gone on for far too long. According to the World Health Organization, up to 2 million girls--or 6,000 per day--are threatened with FGM each year. Here in the United States, studies indicate that all too many girls are under similar threat. The United Nations says that FGM is an ``irreparable, irreversible abuse'' inflicted on women and girls.
I couldn't agree more. So, when some New Yorkers approached me three years ago and told me that girls from my own city were being transported overseas where they were forced to undergo FGM, I knew we needed to take action. Since FGM is illegal in the United States, it should be illegal to transport a minor overseas for the same purpose.
This provision addresses the issue by putting law enforcement on the side of girls. If signed into law, it will never again be acceptable, or legal, to transport a minor from the United States to another country for the purposes of FGM. It will also be illegal to conspire to transport a minor abroad for the purposes of FGM. In fact, if this bill is signed into law, those actions will be a crime. The intent of this legislation is clear--if you plan or participate in the transportation of a minor abroad for so that the minor can undergo FGM, you will have committed a criminal act.
The days of impunity for FGM are now over. Girls who may feel under threat, and families and communities who seek to protect girls from being transported overseas for FGM, will be able to turn to law enforcement for help.
Clearly, there is much more that must be done to address FGM. We need to fund culturally-appropriate outreach and education efforts. We need to work with counselors, teachers and medical providers to ensure they know to help prevent FGM. We need to do everything we can to empower girls. And, efforts should be carried out in consultation with communities where FGM may be prevalent, many of whom have already stepped forward to renounce the practice of FGM. I believe that ultimately these types of efforts are equally as important as instituting a ban on FGM, and we must work to make them a reality here in the United States.