Assemblywoman Amy Paulin Announces the Passage of A8497

Albany – Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) is pleased to announce that A8497 was passed by the Assembly today.

A8497 seeks to increase public awareness and educate the public regarding the physical, sexual and psychological consequences of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM), including "vacation cutting", a process in which young women are sent out of state to undergo the procedure, typically during school vacations. The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Andrew Lanza (D-24).

“This practice is not something about which much of the public is familiar,” Paulin said. “It is torture and a human rights violation and it is our responsibility to make sure that as many people know about it and are educated about it so that we can bring an end to this horrible practice.”

The bill authorizes the State Department of Health to undertake a public awareness campaign on FGM.

FGM, banned federally in 1996, refers to the harmful practice usually performed on girls under the age of 18, ranging 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. This procedure is often done with nothing more than a razor blade and without the use of anesthetic, and without a medical purpose.

“This is a violent act that can have severe physical and emotional repercussions that can last a lifetime, destroying the chance for a normal life for these victimized women.” Paulin said. “We need to call attention to this important issue and educate the public so that we can prevent young girls from being forced to undergo FGM. FGM isn’t medically required or prescribed by any religion or religious group.”

The World Health Organization estimates that 140 million women worldwide are living with the consequence of FGM. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that as many as 200,000 girls in the United States are at risk of being subject to FGM. The New York City and surrounding area has more girls who are in danger of FGM than any other region in the United States. There are many young women who are mutilated secretly and in private ceremonies in the United States, according to the CDC, and even by healthcare providers who support the practice.