Bills to stop female genital mutilation soon heading to the governor

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation to help end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Michigan will soon be sent to the governor.

“Female genital mutilation is a horrific act of barbarism inflicted on young girls throughout the world and even here in Michigan,” said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The recent case in Southeast Michigan, where little girls as young as 6 years old were mutilated by local doctors, was sickening and evil. It was a violation of human rights that cannot — and will not — be tolerated.”

Senate Bills 337 and 338, sponsored by Sen. Margaret O’Brien and Jones, would ban the practice of FGM in Michigan. The bills would make the practice a felony crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“With this legislation, we are taking a stand to protect all Michigan girls and women from this disturbing act,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Female genital mutilation has no place in our state or anywhere else, and I look forward to seeing Michigan join 24 other states in outlawing this oppressive procedure that permanently devastates so many young lives.”

SBs 368 and 369, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and Sen. Judy Emmons, would prohibit someone from transporting a girl to have this procedure carried out. Under the bills, the crime would be 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 need to give law enforcement and prosecutors every available tool to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The bills stem from a recent 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.

“These bills would target those responsible for transporting young girls to be mutilated,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “The impact of the savagery we are fighting is tremendous. 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.

The House approved SBs 337-338 and 368-369 on Thursday. The bills will now return to the Senate to be enrolled and sent to the governor.