Legislation defining Female Genital Mutilation Introduced
For release: 14 November 2019
Cross-party support for legislation defining Female Genital Mutilation
A Bill to clarify the law around Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been introduced to Parliament by women MPs from Labour, National, the Green Party and New Zealand First, working together as members of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians New Zealand Group (CWP).
This is the first time that legislation has been introduced in the name of MPs from multiple parties and highlights the value of the cross party work led by CWP to collaborate on issues relevant to the empowerment of girls and women.
The Crimes (Definition of Female Genital Mutilation) Amendment Bill is intended to update the definition of FGM in the New Zealand Crimes Act, to align with standard World Health Organisation (WHO) classifications of types of FGM and international best practice recommendations. It signals that no form of FGM is acceptable, as it is an abuse of girls and women.
The Bill has been jointly sponsored by Jo Hayes MP (National), Priyanca Radhakrishnan MP (Labour), Jenny Marcroft MP (New Zealand First) and Golriz Ghahraman MP (Green Party).
Co-Chairs of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians New Zealand Group, Jo Hayes and Louisa Wall, have stressed that the draft legislation addresses a cultural practice, and is not based on religion. “We are clear that violence against women and girls is entirely unacceptable and cannot be allowed to hide behind tradition.
“In New Zealand there are a range of communities impacted by FGM and we acknowledge the work of the FGM Education Programme who continue to engage with communities with the goal of elimination of FGM. They do this by leading, designing and delivering FGM awareness and education initiatives in their communities. FGM Educators in these communities are supportive of the need to update legislation to align with the WHO definition of FGM and have been advocating for this change for many years.”
The Bill will be open to submissions from interested groups and individuals and will have its first reading on 4th December as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which follows the United Nations International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25th November.