Maine Lawmaker Recognized Globally for Her Efforts to End Female Genital Mutilation

10/18/18, Maine First Media Staff Report,

“Not to be overly dramatic, I admittedly almost dropped my phone when I learned of this nomination for the Global Woman Award…I am deeply touched by the nomination.”

Those are the words of Republican Rep. Heather Sirocki of Scarborough describing her reaction to learning she’s been nominated in the political category for the Global Woman Award.

Rep. Sirocki was nominated for the award by Female Genital Mutilation survivor and activist, F.A. Cole. Cole testified before the Maine legislature in an effort to pass Sirocki’s ban on Female Genital Mutilation. During her testimony, Cole fought through a panic attack to share her story of the brutal, ritual child abuse she suffered and the physical and emotional scars she carries with her still today.

Unfortunately, Maine House Democrats voted to allow Female Genital Mutilation, killing the ban in Rep. Sirocki’s final term as a Representative.

Cole says she nominated Rep. Sirocki because the Republican from Scarborough refuses to quit on young Maine girls.

“I nominated Rep. Heather Sirocki for a Global Woman Award in the Political category because of the ground breaking work she has done bringing to light the practice of Female Genital Mutilation in Maine,” Cole said. “Even though she is yet to succeed in having her bill passed — while also dealing with threats to her and her family — Rep. Sirocki refuses to give in because protecting little girls at risk of undergoing FGM has become the core of her existence.”

Rep. Sirocki is one of three nominees in the category. The others are Giselle Portenier, an award-winning documentarian in Denmark and Sarah Champion, a U.K. member of Parliament.

The award ceremony will take place in Washington D.C. on Friday, October 26th.

The Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is hosting the award ceremony, as well as the 5th annual Walk to End FGM. The walk will be on Saturday, October 27th, starting at noon.

The goal of the Walk is to raise money to help Female Genital Mutilation survivors obtain reconstructive surgery. If you’re interested in registering to walk — or to sponsor a walker, click here.

“The Legislature is out of touch with the public on this issue, and I am not backing down,” Rep. Sirocki said.

While Rep. Sirocki laments the failed opportunity to ban Female Genital Mutilation in Maine, she still sees a path forward to end this brutal practice.

“My work to help eliminate and prohibit FGM in the state of Maine has been an emotional, frustrating and elusive passion of mine and many of my colleagues for two years,” Rep. Sirocki said. “After many months of work, the bill has come close to passage and failed repeatedly, but there is another way. A new effort has formed that is building new coalitions and fundraising to move forward legislation by way of a ballot referendum. If at first we don’t succeed, we keep trying!”

While a ban hasn’t come to fruition yet, Rep. Sirocki sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Many Mainers from all political persuasions have expressed strong support for the effort to protect children and passing legislation that holds all persons involved with the crime of female genital mutilation responsible; we believe a citizen-led ballot question will be successful,” Rep. Sirocki said.

1,600 females live at high-risk of Female Genital Mutilation in Maine. Meanwhile, 500,000 girls across the U.S. are considered at risk of this barbaric child abuse.

With so much at stake, Rep. Sirocki is excited for the weekend of events.

“I very much look forward to attending the Award Ceremony on October 26th, and I am humbled and honored to have been invited to participate in the Walk to End FGM,” Rep. Siroocki said.

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit. The mission of the organization is to empower women and girls through education in order to eradicate gender-based violence, with full concentration on Female Genital Mutilation.

Maine First Media covered the FGM ban’s trials and tribulations throughout the 2018 session closer than any other news outlet in the state. Below you’ll find links to all of the stories regarding the life — and death — of the bill.