WASHINGTON, D.C.—Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) celebrates the ninth annual International Zero Tolerance Day for Female Genital Mutilation, a day that brings awareness to the horrific practice of cutting or removing female genitals for non-medical purposes.

“There is no reason that young women and girls around the world should be at risk for this abuse,” said Andrea G. Bottner, senior advisor to IWV and former director for the Office of Women’s Issues at the U.S. State Department. “Today, every nation and community should recommit to eliminating this kind of violence. In the United States, all 50 states should protect their girls from FGM. Zero tolerance means zero.”

Progress has been made to protect the young women who are vulnerable to this practice. The U.S. Senate voted in January to unanimously pass the Strengthening the Opposition to Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2020. This critical legislation gives federal law enforcement the ability to prosecute perpetrators of female genital mutilation (FGM), increases the penalty of offenders from five years to 10 years imprisonment, and requires government agencies to estimate the number of women and girls impacted by or at risk of FGM in the U.S. and report actions taken to end the practice.

There is still work to be done, however, as 11 states still do not have laws on the books to protect young girls from FGM. Those states include: Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, Washington, Nebraska, Maine, Indiana, Montana, Mississippi, Connecticut, and Alabama.

For more information on FGM, click HERE