Senate committee approves bills to outlaw female genital mutilation in Michigan

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved legislation that would ban the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Michigan.

The measures were sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones and Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage.

“This evil, horrific act against little girls is demonic and a violation of human rights,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “It is an extreme form of discrimination against girls and women, and I am proud to be working with Senators O’Brien and Schuitmaker to have Michigan to join 24 other states in outlawing female genital mutilation.”

Senate Bills 337 and 338 would ban the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Michigan. The bills would make the practice a felony crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

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. The department states federal law prohibits anyone in the country from knowingly circumcising, excising or infibulating the genitals of any child under 18 years of age.

“There is no place for this type of barbarism in Michigan,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, a co-sponsor. “This legislation will help to ensure that those convicted of this heinous act receive the justice they deserve.”

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.

Before approving the measures, the committee heard from Dr. Lori Post, Ph.D. Post is an expert on FGM, an associate professor at Yale University School of Medicine and incoming director of the Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics at Northwestern University.

“Female genital mutilation cannot be tolerated,” Jones said. “This legislation is about standing up for girls and women in our state and saying, ‘never in Michigan.’”

SBs 337-338 now head to the full Senate for consideration.