WATCH | Michigan just passed a series of bills on female genital mutilation (FGM) that are stronger than national legislation outlawing the practice. They are the 25th state to do so.
The bills that were passed can send anyone who performs FGM to jail for 15 years, three times the federal maximum sentence. It also makes it a crime to transport children across state lines into Michigan for the purposes of FGM, and gives victims of FGM more avenues to pursue justice from their perpetrators.
Michigan State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (R) said, “This is a priority to stop this happening in the state of Michigan.”
FGM is the cutting of a girl's genitalia, sometimes referred to as female circumcision. It is usually performed as part of a cultural cleanliness ritual between birth and puberty.
It was outlawed federally in the U.S. in 1996, but is still performed in some communities where it is seen as a cultural norm.
“This is an evil, horrific practice usually [on] little girls," said Michigan State Senator Rick Jones (R). "It’s done so they don’t have any sexual pleasure the rest of their life.”
The legislation was quickly passed in Michigan after two medical professionals were charged with performing FGM on multiple young girls in the state.
The arrests in Michigan marked the first federal case against FGM and have brought a national spotlight on the issue.
Currently 25 states, including Michigan, have not outlawed FGM on a local level.
"This is not a religious practice," said Jones said. "This is controlling women."
Schuitmaker said, “This is a barbaric procedure I had no idea was happening in the state of Michigan."
Michigan's state legislation is on the governor's desk waiting to be signed. They hope this brings an end to FGM in the state.
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