Massachusetts Medical Society: Massachusetts Medical Society applauds passage of An Act Relative to Penalties for the Crime of Female Genital Mutilation

Massachusetts Medical Society applauds passage of An Act Relative to Penalties for the Crime of Female Genital Mutilation

The Massachusetts Medical Society commends the passage of a new law to protect young girls from the horrific practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). We thank the Governor and House and Senate leadership and bill sponsors for supporting this important public health law, and would like to especially thank the Women’s Bar Association for their efforts, as their passion and commitment was critical to this law’s passage.

FGM is recognized internationally, including by the World Health Organization, as a human rights violation, torture, and an extreme form of discrimination against woman and girls. The reasons underlying the practice of FGM are non-medical and can result in lifelong health consequences. In practice, FGM serves primarily to control women and girls’ sexuality with no associated health benefits. This law criminalizes the practice of FGM and importantly includes education programs for communities with females who are at a high risk of undergoing genital mutilation, and creates interagency partnerships directed towards prevention.

MMS has long been committed to the development of evidence-based programs that continue to advance medical knowledge and competence related to this public health problem and engages in collaborative work with professionals in fields such as child welfare, law, social work, psychology, education, and religion in the management of child abuse. This law, particularly the provisions addressing education, prevention, and community outreach, supports this long-held MMS policy.

We are proud of Massachusetts in joining 38 other states to pass a law outlawing FGM. This law promotes the health and safety of women and girls throughout the Commonwealth and furthers Massachusetts’ leadership in public health and welfare policies.

-David A. Rosman, MD, MBA, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

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