Bills banning female genital mutilation signed

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed legislation to help end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Michigan.

“A strong message has been sent to the world that Michigan will not tolerate this attack on women and little girls,” said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “A recent case in Southeast Michigan, where little girls as young as 6 years old were mutilated by local doctors, was a disturbing act of barbarism and a violation of human rights.”

Senate Bills 337 and 338, sponsored by Sen. Margaret O’Brien and Jones, ban the practice of FGM in Michigan. SBs 368 and 369, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and Sen. Judy Emmons, ban the transportation of girls for an FGM procedure.

“Michigan will protect all girls and women from this horrific act,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Female genital mutilation has no place in our state, and I am proud that Michigan stands with two dozen other states in outlawing this oppressive procedure that permanently devastates so many young lives.”

The bills are now Public Acts 70-73 of 2017 and make each crime a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“This barbaric procedure has no accepted health benefits and is only performed to exercise control over young women,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “We owe it to our girls to give law enforcement and prosecutors every available tool to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The new laws stemmed from a case in which Michigan-based doctors were arrested and charged for allegedly conspiring to perform FGM on minors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“The impact of the savagery we are fighting is tremendous,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “These traumatic procedures are usually performed without anesthetic, and victims can have ongoing psychological and physical health consequences, including infection, pain and even death.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FGM refers to cutting and other procedures that injure the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Federal law prohibits anyone in the country from knowingly excising or infibulating the genitals of any girl under 18 years of age.