Source: Queens Gazette

By John Toscano

Maloney, Trott Move To Strengthen Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Law

U.S. Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12) and Dave Trott (R-MI-11) introduced the bipartisan Stopping Abusive Female Exploitation (SAFE) Act, legislation that would increase the federal penalty for female genital mutilation from 5 years to 15 years in prison and encourage states to implement reporting requirements for suspected genital mutilation: “Female genital mutilation is a disturbing abuse of women and girls not just around the world but also here at home and it is up to us to stop and properly punish this illegal exploitation,” said Maloney. “This practice has increased in prevalence in the United States over the last 30 years while it has decreased abroad. We’re clearly moving in the wrong direction. In 2008, ten global agencies called the practice a human rights violation and called for its elimination. The list of health risks associated with this barbarism is long and serious, including death, childbirth complications and newborn death. By increasing the penalty for this despicable crime and introducing a provision to encourage states to implement reporting laws, we hope to make it clear that this behavior will not be tolerated.” “The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 500,000 females in the United States have undergone or are at risk for genital mutilation and, this year, this staggering statistic hit home in Oakland County. In April, three physicians were arrested, suspected of performing over 100 female genital mutilations, most recently, out of their practice in Livonia, Michigan,” said Rep. Trott. “These doctors, and all those who commit these horrendous crimes against innocent children, must be held accountable for their unconscionable actions. We must protect our girls, and this legislation increasing the federal penalty is critical to eradicating this despicable practice from our communities.” Under current federal law, female genital mutilation is punishable by 5 years in prison. The Stopping Abusive Female Exploitation (SAFE) Act would increase the punishment to 15 years imprisonment. Additionally, it implores states to enact into law reporting requirements for suspected female genital mutilation. The Centers for Disease Control estimates more than 500,000 females in the United States have undergone or are at risk of female genital mutilation, Maloney charged. In stark contrast to other developed countries, the 5-year penalty for perpetrators of female genital mutilation in the U.S. is significantly shorter. For example, the penalty in the United Kingdom is up to 14 years imprisonment, and in France up to 20 years imprisonment. 

Maloney Mourns Passing Of Women’s Rights Champion Betty Dukes

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) mourns the death of Betty Dukes, the named plaintiff in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, the Supreme Court case that limited the availability of class action status for plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases, Maloney stated: “Betty Dukes became the face of 1.5 million women working at Wal-Mart who faced systematic discrimination in terms of pay and opportunities. Despite anti-discrimination language in their corporate handbooks, managers at Wal-Mart were overwhelmingly male and women faced a significant pay gap. Plaintiffs were able to demonstrate that women were 70% of the workforce but only 33% of the managers, that women were paid less in every region and that the pay gap widened over time for men and women hired at the same time. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court refused to look at Wal-Mart employment practices company-wide and made it much harder for employees of large corporations to bring class action lawsuits. By bringing her lawsuit, Betty Dukes helped reveal the critical need for an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to give women the tools to fight employment discrimination. It was an honor to join with her just a few months ago at an event supporting the ERA at Hunter College. She was fervent in her support for the ERA, and recognized its importance for women seeking to prevent and take measures against gaps in pay and opportunities. Up until her last days, she continued the fight for equality. We have lost a strong champion and a powerful voice for the cause of equal rights for women.” Congresswoman Maloney is the lead House sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, to enshrine women’s equal rights in the Constitution.