LANSING — Female genital mutilation (FGM) would be criminalized in Michigan under a bipartisan package of legislation submitted today by state Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and other legislators.
“We must do what we can legislatively to prevent this inhumane act from occurring in Michigan,” said state Rep. Michele Hoitenga, of Manton. “This legislative package is incredibly comprehensive, addressing all possible factors related to this atrocious procedure which has absolutely no place in America.”
The bipartisan package consists of seven bills and one resolution, and also includes three bills and a resolution submitted by four Democratic representatives. Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) submitted a bill to extend the statute of limitations for FGM victims up to 10 years after their 18th birthday, regardless of the date of the procedure.
“It became clear to me when I was researching female genital mutilation that young girls are typically forced to undergo female genital mutilation without anyone explaining what is happening, and often times they do not realize until they become adults that what happened to them was female genital mutilation,” Chang said. “That it is wrong. These women should have the ability to pursue legal action in the first 10 years of their adulthood and my bill would make this remedy possible for them.”
Hoitenga’s bill, one of four submitted by Republican representatives, would create a felony offense for anyone who performs or facilitates an FGM procedure. State Rep. Diana Farrington, of Utica, has introduced legislation making it a felony offense to anyone to host or transport another for the purpose of performing a FGM procedure, with Rep. Daire Rendon, of Lake City, submitting a bill that sets the sentencing guidelines for the two bills. Rep. Klint Kesto, of Commerce Township, has introduced a bill calling for the revocation of a state medical license for anyone convicted under the legislation.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking that young girls are subjected to such a terrible procedure, especially when they are being misled into thinking that it is a routine operation,” Farrington said. “Anyone who does this, even by transporting a victim or allowing the procedure to occur in one’s medical facility, should face serious consequences.”
Rendon said: “The emotional scars from this horrific procedure are just as damaging as the physical damage the young victims will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Any person who is involved in the process should be prepared for a long incarceration.”
Kesto said: “Anyone performing this procedure has no business calling themselves a doctor, nurse or anything in the medical profession. There is absolutely no health benefit to victims and it’s done only to disfigure women.”
The legislation follows a February incident where two young girls were transported from Minnesota to a southeast Michigan clinic for the purpose of both undergoing FGM. A Livonia couple was arrested on federal charges in April after allowing and performing the procedure after hours at their medical clinic, while a third individual has been fired from their emergency room doctor position for performing a FGM at the same Livonia clinic.