EmpowerHer

UPDATE:

Members of a House Judiciary subcommittee will meet at 8 AM on the 13th to discuss FGM legislation and will decide whether or not to recommend passage to the full Judiciary Committee.

HF 63 was the first bill introduced, but now there are four bills–three in the House and one in the Senate.


HSB 115 and SF 212 contain the same language. HF 63 and HF 299 are the same. There is not substantive difference between the two versions of bills. However, HF 299 and SF 212 have Republican cosponsors and HSB 115 is from Judiciary Committee chair Holt, so any of those are more likely to move forward.

Because they are so similar, we are not asking for support for a specific bill, rather we’re asking support for legislation prohibiting female genital mutilation.

Send email to:


House Judiciary Committee chair, Rep. Steven Holt, Crawford county, steven.holt@legis.iowa.gov
Judiciary subcommittee members:
Megan Jones, Clay county,  megan.jones@legis.iowa.gov
Ashley Hinson, Linn county, ashley.hinson@legis.iowa.gov
Liz Bennett, Linn county,  liz.bennett@legis.iowa.gov

Female Genital Mutilation

We  are asking for your assistance in eliminating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Iowa. The United Nations banned FGM in 2012 and UN Women exposed it as violence against women. Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Goals (Gender Equality) includes the elimination of FGM as one of its priority targets.

Iowa House File 63 calls for an Act creating the criminal offense of female genital mutilation and providing penalties. It was introduced by Marti Anderson (36th District), Mark.Smith (71st District), Mary Mascher (86th District), Monica Kurth (89th District), Mary Gaskill (81st District), Charlie McConkey (15th District), and Jeff Kurtz (83rd District). It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

HF 63 was sent to the House Judiciary Committee which proposed a Judiciary Bill by Chairperson Holt, HSB 115.

Please contact your representative and urge them to support HF 63.


Legislators must use their power, their voice, and their vote to prohibit this violation of human rights by sending a clear message that we will not tolerate the mutilation of any girl living in this state. Please do not delay passage of this legislation.
 

Tampon Tax

SF 173 seeks to eliminate the sales tax on feminine hygiene products. These products do not qualify under WIC & SNAP federal assistance programs. This forces women & girls to make hard choices, and can result in girls unnecessarily staying home from school.

The bill was introduced by Janet Petersen (18th District), Rich Taylor (42nd District), Jackie Smith (7th District), Nate Boulton (16th District), Pam Jochum (50th District), Joe Bolkcom (43rd District), William Dotzler (31st District), Todd Taylor (35th District), Zach Wahls (37th District), Claire Celsi (21st District), Amanda Ragan (27th District), and Tony Besignano (17th District).

Please contact your senator and urge them to support SF 173.


Legislators must use their power, their voice, and their vote to prohibit this violation of human rights by sending a clear message that we will not tolerate the mutilation of any girl living in this state. Please do not delay passage of this legislation.

Background

As far back as 2002, a bill prohibiting female genital mutilation was introduced by Sen. Nancy Boettger (Harlan) in the Iowa Legislature. It passed the Iowa Senate, but did not make it through the House. More recent bills received even less consideration. It’s important that the legislature act now to ban FGM in light of a recent federal court ruling.

 

  1. The U.S. passed a law in 1996, the Female Genital Mutilation Act, 18 U.S. Code 116, introduced by Rep. Pat Schroeder that allowed for a fine and imprisonment.

  2. An amendment was passed in 2012 or 13 banning “vacation cutting”–taking a girl out of state for the procedure.

  3. A November 2018 ruling by Bernard Friedman, a federal judge in Detroit, found that the law could not be permitted under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.  "Congress overstepped its bounds by legislating to prohibit [female genital mutilation]," Friedman wrote, calling it a "local criminal activity" for the states to regulate, not Congress. He noted that the Supreme Court has said that individual states, not the federal government, have the authority to police local criminal activity. The charges against the Michigan doctor, accused of mutilating multiple girls, were the first federal case involving the procedure. If the ruling stands, it’s imperative that each state pass legislation.

  4. All of the states surrounding Iowa, except Nebraska, have laws about FGM.

  5. Iowa is one of 23 states that do not have laws prohibiting FGM.

 

As a result of Judge Friedman’s ruling and lacking prohibitions in federal or state law, girls in Iowa may be subjected to this clear violation of human rights without consequence.

 

About FGM

  • FGM is a cultural practice that does not have a basis in any particular religious tradition and has been practiced for generations (some estimate as early as the 5th century BCE) in a number of African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries, and has spread around the world as people migrated to places like the U.S. and Europe.

  • Immigrants from Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Egypt (where FGM is practiced) account for 41% of the immigrants from Africa to the U.S.

  • FGM is prevalent in cultures where women & girls have few or no rights.

  • FGM is performed on girls as young as two and up to age 14 or 15.

  • Girls who refuse FGM face rejection by their family and/or community.

  • FGM is done to preserve virginity until marriage, eliminate or reduce the sex drive of girls, or as a rite of passage.

  • The exterior female genitalia (head of the clitoris or all of it) is cut off, usually under non-medical conditions; sometimes the vagina is sewn shut as well.

  • Lifetime consequences can include incontinence, fistulas, menstrual problems, difficulty with urination, chronic pain, urinary tract infections, and depression.

  • Some, but not all, women can still experience orgasm and can become pregnant.

  • FGM often causes complications during childbirth.

  • The WHO recognizes FGM “cutting” as a violation of human rights.

  • International conventions–the Convention on Eliminating Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child– recognize the harm caused by FGM.

  • The WHO estimates that 2 million girls and women alive today worldwide have undergone FGM–about 3 million are at risk per year.

  • It’s estimated that 513,000 women and girls in the U.S. today are living with FGM.

 

Resources about FGM (many others are available):

  • International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, February 6

http://www.un.org/en/events/femalegenitalmutilationday/

  • Health Risks of FGM–World Health Organization

http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/fgm/health_consequences_fgm/en/

  • Female Genital Mutilation–World Health Organization

http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation

  • Female Genital Mutilation on the Rise in the U.S., Newsweek, 2-16-15

https://www.newsweek.com/fgm-rates-have-doubled-us-2004-304773

  • endfgmtoday.com

  • Multiple news outlets, including NPR, NY Times, Washington Post, the Guardian, and Fox reported on the ruling

  • CNN news story-Charges dropped in first federal genital mutilation case in U.S.

 https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/20/us/female-genital-mutilation-case-charges-dropped/index.html

 

 

Iowa United Nations Association urges passage of HF 63 and SF 173.

Please contact your representative today. Thank you!

Feminine Hygiene Products

Access to feminine hygiene products (e.g. pads, tampons, liners, and sanitary wipes) is a basic human need that is essential for all women and girls.

Insufficient access, and limited availability to acceptable and quality feminine hygiene products threatens the health, dignity, education, and lives of women and girls in the United States and globally

Iowa UNA is working with HACAP/Feeding America to provide menstrual products to girls in Iowa.

We are working with the Myna Mahila Foundation in India to help them provide access to sanitary pads at the doorstep in Mumbai slums. The Foundation is honoured to be one of seven charities chosen to benefit from donations marking the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle.

EmpowerHer aims to raise awareness among Iowans about the need for feminine hygiene, and provide feminine hygiene products by raising funds and products for girls in Iowa and India.

 

This will significantly reduce the economic, gender, health, social disparities, and inequalities of women and girls in the United States and globally.

 

Distributing feminine hygiene products to girls with an unmet need locally and globally will enable them to hygienically and safely manage their menstruation, and with dignity.

 

Girls can stay in school. The goals are global and local, the leaders are local.

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