DENOUNCING FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION/CUTTING AS VIOLATING HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND GIRLS; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 84
(House of Representatives - May 20, 2019)

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[Pages H3976-H3978]
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                              {time}  1645
DENOUNCING FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION/CUTTING AS VIOLATING HUMAN RIGHTS 
                           OF WOMEN AND GIRLS

  Mr. CASTRO of Texas. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and 
agree to the resolution (H. Res. 106) denouncing female genital 
mutilation/cutting as a violation of the human rights of women and 
girls and urging the international community and the Federal Government 
to increase efforts to eliminate the harmful practice.
  The Clerk read the title of the resolution.
  The text of the resolution is as follows:

                              H. Res. 106

       Whereas female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is 
     recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights 
     of women and girls;
       Whereas FGM/C comprises all procedures that involve partial 
     or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other 
     injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons;
       Whereas an estimated 200 million girls and women alive 
     today have been victims of FGM/C, with girls 14 and younger 
     representing 44 million of those who have been cut;
       Whereas more than 3 million girls are estimated to be at 
     risk of FGM/C annually;
       Whereas the practice is mostly carried out on young girls 
     between infancy and age 15;
       Whereas the practice is rooted in gender inequality and is 
     often linked to other elements of gender-based violence and 
     discrimination, such as child marriage;
       Whereas the World Health Organization asserts that FGM/C 
     has no health benefits for women and girls, and can have 
     long-term impacts on their physical, psychological, sexual, 
     and reproductive health;
       Whereas the impacts of FGM/C on the physical health of 
     women and girls can include bleeding, infection, obstetric 
     fistula, complications during childbirth, and death;
       Whereas, according to UNICEF, FGM/C is reported to occur in 
     all parts of the world, but is most prevalent in parts of 
     Africa, the Middle East, and Asia;
       Whereas, although the practice of FGM/C is highly 
     concentrated in specific regions and associated with several 
     cultural traditions, it is not tied to any one religion;
       Whereas, in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and 
     Prevention published a report estimating that 513,000 women 
     and girls in the United States were at risk or may have been 
     subjected to FGM/C;
       Whereas, in 2015, the United Nations adopted a set of 17 
     Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 that includes a target 
     to eliminate FGM/C, having previously recognized in 2010 that 
     ``the abandonment of this harmful practice can be achieved as 
     a result of a comprehensive movement that involves all public 
     and private stakeholders in society'';
       Whereas the elimination of FGM/C has been called for by 
     numerous intergovernmental organizations, including the 
     African Union, the European Union, and the Organization of 
     Islamic Cooperation, as well as in 3 resolutions of the 
     United Nations General Assembly;
       Whereas the Department of State reports on FGM/C in its 
     Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, including 
     information on whether FGM/C is prevalent, the type and 
     category of genital cutting that is most common, as well as 
     international and governmental efforts being taken to address 
     the practice;
       Whereas the Federal Government recognized FGM/C as a form 
     of gender-based violence in the United States Strategy to 
     Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally, 
     released in August 2012 and updated in June 2016, and the 
     United States Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, 
     released in March 2016;
       Whereas a Government Accountability Office report released 
     in 2016 concluded that ``State and USAID currently have 
     limited international assistance efforts to address FGM/C.''; 
     and
       Whereas, in 2012, the United Nations General Assembly 
     designated February 6 as the International Day of Zero 
     Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation to enhance awareness 
     of and encourage concrete actions by states and individuals 
     against the practice: Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
       (1) denounces female genital mutilation/cutting as a 
     violation of the human rights of women and girls;
       (2) affirms the importance of ending the practice of female 
     genital mutilation/cutting globally for the safety and 
     security of women;
       (3) calls upon the international community to increase 
     efforts to accelerate the elimination of female genital 
     mutilation/cutting; and
       (4) urges the Department of State and the United States 
     Agency for International Development in their gender 
     programming to incorporate coordinated efforts to eliminate 
     female genital mutilation/cutting.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Castro) and the gentleman

[[Page H3977]]

from Texas (Mr. Wright) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Castro).


                             General Leave

  Mr. CASTRO of Texas. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous material on H. Res. 106, denouncing 
female genital mutilation, or cutting.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. CASTRO of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  I rise in strong support of this resolution.
  First, I want to thank my colleagues, Ms. Frankel and Mr. Perry, for 
introducing this important bipartisan measure.
  Every year, 3 million girls around the world are at risk of facing 
female genital mutilation, or cutting, also known as FGMC. It is a 
horrific practice that mutilates girls without their consent and can 
lead to chronic, long-term health problems, and it can even be fatal.
  Madam Speaker, the United States rightly considers female genital 
mutilation, or cutting, a violation of women's rights. Here in the 
United States, it is a Federal crime to perform this procedure on girls 
under the age of 18, and many other countries have similar laws banning 
the practice.
  But despite a rising global awareness about the egregious nature of 
FGMC, it is still a reality for millions of women around the world. It 
is estimated that over 200 million women and girls today have been 
subjected to this heinous mistreatment.
  We need to speak out against this injustice. That is why I am pleased 
to support H. Res. 106, a resolution that denounces female genital 
mutilation, cutting, as a violation of the human rights of women and 
girls and urges the international community and the Federal Government 
to ramp up our efforts to eliminate this harmful practice.
  We need to do everything we can to combat the systemic mistreatment 
and injustice women face around the world. So I ask my colleagues to 
join me in supporting this resolution to denounce FGMC.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. WRIGHT. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Madam Speaker, I rise in support of this resolution to denounce 
female genital mutilation as a violation of the human rights of women 
and girls.
  I want to thank my committee colleagues, Congresswoman Lois Frankel 
and Congressman Scott Perry, for introducing the resolution and for 
their sustained engagement on the issue.
  An estimated 200 million women and girls have been victims of FGM, 
which has dangerous and lasting health implications. The United States 
and many other countries and international organizations have called 
for an end to this highly invasive practice.
  Every year, the Department of State reports on the prevalence of FGM 
as part of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, and this is 
an important tool for raising awareness of where this abuse persists.
  This resolution urges the Department of State and USAID to go further 
and to incorporate anti-FGM efforts into their existing programming 
around the world. U.S. leadership is important to putting an end to 
this human rights violation.
  Speaking as the father of a daughter and a grandfather of five 
granddaughters, I urge my colleagues to support this measure.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CASTRO of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Frankel), the author of this resolution.
  Ms. FRANKEL. Madam Speaker, let me start by first of all thanking my 
colleague, Mr. Castro, for yielding time, and Chairman Engel and 
Ranking Member McCaul for their bipartisan leadership.
  I am rising in support of a bipartisan resolution brought by myself 
and Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania denouncing female 
genital mutilation and cutting, known as FGM.
  Every girl, no matter where she is born, has a right to be free of 
violence, and FGM is a barbaric violation of girls' and women's human 
rights. It is defined by the World Health Organization as any procedure 
that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia 
or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons.
  Madam Speaker, there is no developmental, religious, or health-
related justification for this harmful practice. FGM poses immediate 
risks to girls' health, including severe pain and bleeding, difficulty 
in passing urine, infections, and even death due to hemorrhage or 
shock.
  The practice often leaves girls with long-term scars as well: post-
traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, HIV infection, cysts, abscess, 
genital ulcers. I could go on.
  Girls who have undergone FGM also face an increased risk of 
complications affecting their menstrual cycles, sometimes resulting in 
infertility. And as my colleagues pointed out, more than 200 million 
women and girls living today around the world, including women right 
here in the United States of America, have been cut.
  And now here is a horrible statistic: UNICEF predicts that, if there 
is no reduction in this practice within the next 30 years, the number 
of girls being mutilated each year is going to grow from 3.6 million a 
year to 6.6 million a year.
  Madam Speaker, I want you to know that, with resources and advocacy, 
we can stop this horrific practice. Just look at Jaha, a very, very 
courageous young woman from Gambia who was a week old when she was 
mutilated and forced into marriage at age 15. Now, she escaped that 
marriage. She could easily have fallen into despair. Instead, she spoke 
out because she never wanted her daughter or any other child to go 
through the suffering of FGM. Because of her hard-fought efforts, FGM 
is now banned in her home country.

  Like Jaha, we must all do more. So, today, I am asking the United 
States Congress to pass this bipartisan resolution denouncing female 
genital mutilation, recognizing it as a violation of the human rights 
of women and girls, affirming the importance of ending its practice for 
the safety and security of women, calling upon the international 
community to increase its efforts to accelerate the elimination, and 
urging our State Department of the United States, in their gender 
programming, to incorporate coordinated efforts to eliminate FGM.
  Today, we are going to send a clear message that this practice must 
stop; and the United States, as one of the largest donors in the global 
health programs, can help end this cruel practice.
  There are things that we can do, like allocating resources annually 
to continue our efforts to eliminate FGM, codifying the U.S. strategies 
to prevent and respond to gender-based violence; and we must--I want to 
say this emphatically--we must restore funding to the U.N. Population 
Fund, the world's largest program to end FGM, that works with 17 
countries and more than 3 million survivors.
  Madam Speaker, ending FGM will help millions of girls have a better 
life. And when they have a better life, that means that their 
communities will be more prosperous and more peaceful, because when 
women succeed, the world succeeds.
  It is imperative that we end female genital mutilation now. And I 
thank my colleagues for joining me in support of this critical 
resolution.
  Mr. WRIGHT. In closing, I again want to thank Representative Frankel 
and Representative Perry for their persistence in this fight.
  Every case of female genital mutilation is one too many. This 
resolution calls on the nations of the world to do more to stop this 
awful violation of the dignity and safety of women and girls. It 
deserves our unanimous support.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CASTRO of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my 
time.
  We all agree that female genital mutilation, or cutting, is a 
horrific form of child abuse and a violation of women's rights.
  The resolution before us today is a signal to the rest of the world 
that the United States Congress is paying attention to this issue; we 
stand with the millions of women who are still being

[[Page H3978]]

subjected to this practice; and we will not stop fighting for their 
right to dignity and respect.
  Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H. Res. 
106, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Castro) that the House suspend the rules and 
agree to the resolution, H. Res. 106.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. CASTRO of Texas. Madam Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and 
nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this motion will be postponed.

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