FGM legislation approved by Senate panel

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved legislation that would make it a felony to knowingly transport a girl to have female genital mutilation (FGM) performed.

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan.

“These are young girls. They are not the ones making the choice to come and have this done,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Somebody is bringing them and, tragically, it is often someone who should be loving and protecting that child, not subjecting them to this type of brutality.”

Senate Bills 368 and 369 make it a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, to transport a person to have FGM performed.

This action comes after the committee’s recent approval of SBs 337 and 338, which would ban the practice of female genital mutilation in Michigan. That measure was sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge and Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage.

“These bills will ensure that anyone who transports an innocent girl to have this heinous procedure carried out or performs this procedure themselves faces justice,” Schuitmaker added.

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.

“This horrific procedure will not be tolerated in our state,” said Schuitmaker. “This legislation will help ensure those convicted of this heinous act are held accountable.”

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.

All of the bills now head to the full Senate for further consideration.