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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Lawmakers move bills to make female genital mutilation a state crime

Woman with head covering walking away
Héctor de Pereda
flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal prosecutor recently revealed as many as 100 girls in Michigan may have been victims of female genital mutilation. Now the state legislature is working quickly to pass bills to make it a 15-year felony in Michigan.

Both chambers have introduced legislation to make female genital mutilation a 15 year felony. The Senate bills (SB 337, SB 338, SB 369) are waiting for full House approval. HB 4636, HB 4637, HB 4638, HB 4639, HB 4640, HB 4641, HB 4642, are on their way to the Senate.

State Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, is a bill sponsor. She said their bills go beyond just making female genital mutilation a criminal offense.

We also [want to] make sure that we’re looking at it in a really comprehensive way. So that we’re doing education and outreach to target populations and medical providers. Making sure that we’re updating our police training standards.”

The bills would make cutting or removing the genitals of a female minor, for non-medical purposes a 15 year felony.

But some lawmakers had concerns that the bills could lead to unintended consequences.

State Rep. Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, voted no on some of the bills. One of his concerns is young people who are intersex or want a sex change, because that is technically an elective procedure, not purely for medical purposes.

“The broadest concern would be that this is moving so quickly that the legislation isn’t well crafted and narrowly tailored to the extent, to only do what we stated to do,” he said.

The House also adopted a resolution to support the United Nations’ efforts to end female genital mutilation worldwide. It urges the state to do everything it can to end the practice in Michigan.

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