Little Rock, AR—Today, American Atheists, on behalf of its constituents in Arkansas, wrote in support of SB 318. This comprehensive bill which will protect women and girls in Arkansas from the harmful practices known as female genital mutilation (FGM).
Arkansas is one of just 22 states that does not prohibit FGM.
FGM is the ritual cutting or alteration of female genitalia for non-medical purposes. It is predominately forced upon young females and performed by non-licensed practitioners.
SB 318 establishes that FGM performed upon minors is a class C felony allowing the prosecution of practitioners and prohibits transportation for a minor for this purpose.
This bill makes five more changes to the law. First, religious beliefs are not appropriate defenses. Second, survivors of FGM would have a private right of action. Third, child abuse reporters must also report FGM of a minor. Fourth, the bill establishes discipline for licensed medical practitioners who perform FGM. Fifth, it would create educational programs to help raise awareness of the harms of FGM.