LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Doctors and parents involved in female genital mutilation will face up to 15 years in prison under new Michigan laws.
Female circumcision or cutting is already a federal crime punishable by five years in prison. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation on Tuesday that creates a state crime with harsher penalties.
“Those who commit these horrendous crimes should be held accountable for their actions, and these bills stiffen the penalties for offenders while providing additional support to victims,” Snyder said, in a statement. “This legislation is an important step toward eliminating this despicable practice in Michigan while empowering victims to find healing and justice.”
The bill package amends various public acts to prohibit and prosecute those who perform female genital mutilation. Specifically, the bills prohibit performing genital mutilation, create criminal penalties for offenders, provide sanctions against healthcare licensees, require increased public education surrounding the topic and extend criminal and civil statutes of limitations.
The legislation was proposed after six people from an India-based Muslim sect called Dawoodi Bohra were charged in a genital mutilation case involving six girls at a Livonia clinic. Two of the girls are from Minnesota, and four are from Michigan.
Michigan is the 26th state to officially ban the practice, which is common in some parts of the world, sometimes for religious or cultural reasons.
The laws take effect in October.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), FGM is “an international recognized violation of human rights of girls and women.”
The FBI’s Detroit Field Division has set up a tip line for anyone who has information pertaining to the illegal practice of FGM at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5984). Tips can also be submitted online at FBI.gov/FGM.
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