Senate approves measures to stop female genital mutilation

Sen. Judy Emmons

Sen. Judy Emmons

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would help end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the state.

“Female genital mutilation is a horrifying and sickening act of brutality inflicted on young girls throughout the world and even here in Michigan,” said Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan. “The tragic recent case in Southeast Michigan, where little girls as young as 6 years old were mutilated by local doctors, illustrates that we are not immune from evil. We must take a stand for all Michigan girls that this unnecessary and traumatic procedure has no place in our state or anywhere else.”

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

SBs 368 and 369, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, and Emmons would ban the transportation of girls for an FGM procedure. Under the bills, the crime would also be a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“My bill would specifically target those who subject their daughters to this torture when they are on vacation overseas in their home country or who bring people into the U.S. to mutilate their daughters,” Emmons said.

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.

“Let’s be open and honest about what sort of savagery we are fighting,” Emmons said. “Female genital mutilation is medically unnecessary and is usually performed to exercise control over a female’s sexuality and to ensure her virginity until marriage. Specifically, it involves the removal of part or all of the female genitalia, ranging from cutting off the hood of the clitoris to removing the entire clitoris and inner labia and then sewing together the outer labia.

“These mutilations are usually performed without anesthetic, and victims can have ongoing psychological and physical health consequences, including infection, pain and even death.”

SBs 337-338 and 368-369 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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