A new law that its backers called a pivotal step in protecting vulnerable young women and girls across the United States from the “barbaric and medically unnecessary procedure” of female genital mutilation was signed into law by President Trump on Thursday.

The bipartisan legislation, known as the Strengthening the Opposition to Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2020, or STOP FGM Act of 2020, was introduced in Congress by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, just before the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed much of the country in March.

“We are thrilled that the president has signed this. President Trump knows the Stop FGM Act will finally offer young women and girls stronger protection from the atrocity of female genital mutilation,” Andrea G. Bottner, senior adviser to advocacy group Independent Women’s Voice and former State Department official, told Fox News. “We are grateful this administration is making sure no girl should ever have to face this horror in her lifetime.”

“The STOP FGM Act will finally offer young women and girls stronger protection from the horror of female genital mutilation. No girl should ever have to face this in her lifetime. The bipartisan nature of this legislation shows that when it comes to the safety of young girls, politics shouldn’t matter,” Bottner added in a statement.

The issue garnered significant stateside attention and outrage after a Michigan judge ruled in November 2018 that a 1996 U.S. federal law banning FGM was “unconstitutional” – thus dropping critical charges against practitioners accused of performing FGM on nine young girls. 

According to Bottner, the STOP FGM Act of 2020 will strengthen current law, especially in ensuring that the commercial clause is explicit that it will not be tolerated.

“We are raising awareness and making it very well known that this practice will not occur in the United States,” she added.

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