GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Randy Boyd and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry Both Want Refugees But Remain Silent on Female Genital Mutilation Threat

May 1, 2017

Chris Alto

GOP Gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry have something in common.

They both want refugees resettled in Tennessee, and they both remain silent on the threat of female genital mutilation (FGM) to women and girls in the Volunteer State.

Reiterating her campaign theme, “it doesn’t matter where you started life or how you got here” progressive Mayor Megan Barry lauded Nashville for being a “warm and welcoming place” during her second state of Metro address, yet did not respond to the Tennessee Star’s questions about the threat of FGM to women and girls in Davidson County.

Barry’s office was asked last week if based on the Mayor’s support for increased refugee resettlement and the high immigration from FGM prevalent countries to Nashville, whether the discovery of and prosecution for FGM in Michigan raises any concern for her administration about what might be happening in her city?

No response was received from Mayor Barry’s office.

Despite the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area being ranked 20th in the country for the potential risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) as reported by the Population Reference Bureau, and despite Nashville being the city that receives the highest number of refugees annually including refugees from high FGM prevalent countries, there is no mention of FGM in the Metro 2015-2019 Community Health Improvement Plan.

Metro Nashville, however, is also a significant point of intersection for both Mayor Barry and gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd.

Boyd and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce are both named members of the Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE) which recently awarded Nashville a “Gateways for Growth” grant designed to support immigration to the city. PNAE supports both legal immigration like refugee resettlement and illegal immigration.

Former mayor Karl Dean, also a named member of PNAE, referred to the Kurdish, Somali and Sudanese refugees in Nashville as “growing enclaves of immigrants.”

Ninety-eight percent of women and girls ages 15 -29 in Somalia have been mutilated, eighty-seven percent in Sudan, and as reported previously by Tennessee Star, FGM remains a persistent problem in Kurdistan despite being banned in 2011. Refugees from each of these countries have been brought to Nashville by federal refugee resettlement contractors.

The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) report estimates that 500,000 women and girls in the U.S. are either at risk for female genital mutilation (FGM) or have already been mutilated and ranked Tennessee 18th overall for risk to women and girls from FGM. The PRB is supported by organizations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the National Council of La Raza, among others.

Gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd made a $250,000 donation to La Raza Chairman’sNashville organization.

The Boyd campaign was contacted by the Tennessee Star on April 22nd and asked the following:

Is the Boyd campaign aware of the expanded FGM case developing in Michigan? If not, it happens now that additional cases of young girls living in Michigan in addition to the ones being brought in from out of state, and additional perpetrators are now part of what is happening there.

With that being the case, and the immigration to Tennessee from high FGM prevalence countries, the CDC and PRB estimates of high threat to women and girls in TN from FGM and Randy’s support for continued immigration to TN including refugees, would what is happening in Michigan raise any concerns for the him about possible FGM activity in TN and/or instances of young girls being transported out of state for this purpose?

You might look and see that La Raza is a supporter of PRB and their reporting on this issue is very troubling for TN.

Currently, there is no reporting requirement by healthcare providers to the TDH and there were 21 cases documented in TN hospitals in 2011 – would Randy support reporting to the TDH?

Would Randy have any position on mandated training for healthcare providers to look for the signs and symptoms of FGM is being provided to licensed TN healthcare providers the way they are taking it on in the UK?

No response to date has been received from the Boyd campaign.