Michigan Will Become the 26th U.S. State To Ban FGM/C

Two weeks ago, the Michigan Senate unanimously approved legislation to make female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) on girls a state felony, which is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  This law applies to doctors who perform the procedure and to parents or guardians who transport a child to undergo FGM/C.  The legislation then went before the House of Representatives of Michigan for approval.

According to reports from Reuters, the Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder signed the legislation two weeks ago put forth by the State Senate to make FGM/C a felony crime in his state.  According to Reuters, a package of thirteen bills was signed by the Republican Governor.  Included in the Bill Governor Snyder signed is an article that allowing for a health professional’s license or registration to be revoked if he or she is convicted of female genital mutilation.  Michigan is the 26th state to ban the practice; the state laws go into effect in October.

This action was prompted by the current FGM/C case in Snyder’s state, when a couple of arrests were carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the spring of this year.  Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was arrested under federal law for performing FGM/C on two seven-year old girls at a private medical clinic in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.  The clinic is owned by Dr. Fakhruddin Attar of Farmington Hills, but is managed by his wife, Dr. Farida Attar.  Both of the Attars were arrested a day after the arrest of Nagarwala.

In a report from the Detroit News, in a statement from one of the little girls to the FBI, Dr. Nagarwala had “pinched” her on the “place she goes pee.’ ” Medical examinations also confirmed that the genitals of the girl had appeared abnormal, with a section that had either been altered or removed. The examinations also showed scar tissue and lacerations which were in the process of healing.  The other seven-year old girl said that Dr. Nagarwala is indeed the doctor she saw at the clinic in Detroit.  That girl’s genitals showed a small incision with tearing.  The doctors in this case are from the Muslim Sect called Dawoodi Bohra in India.  The indictment alleges that approximately a hundred girls had undergone FGM/C by the doctors over a period from 2005.

Four Republican State Senators sponsored the Bill before the Michigan Senate.  The Judiciary Committee Chairman Rick Jones, one of the Legislative Sponsors said to the panel in his testimony that the state of Michigan has become a “hotspot” for FGM/C.  He attributes his assertion to the large community of immigrants from FGM/C practicing countries.  Jones said that the practice has been hidden because people were unaware of it.  However he wants to make a strong statement to the world that it will no longer happen in the state of Michigan.

At the signing of the Bill, Michigan Governor Snyder said, “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.”

Just a month ago, July 1st the Virginia law became effective against FGM/C.  Female genital mutilation and cutting is one problem in the United States with which both major parties reach a consensus.  The Virginia Bill was unanimously passed without objections in the spring, and likewise the Michigan Bill last month.  With both Virginia and Michigan Bills being passed and signed into law still leaves forty-nine more states without laws against FGM/C.

Female genital mutilation and cutting, more commonly known as FGM, FGC, FGM/C or female circumcision is the intentional removal of either all or part of the external female genitalia, for non-medical reasons.

The Maine Legislature is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the criminalization of FGM/C.  However this is not the first time a vote of this nature will happen in this state on this issue.  The State House in Maine voted back in June to ban the practice but was unsuccessful in passing the Bill.  The final vote was 76 to 71 against the ban, following a long debate.

The Bill would make it a Class B crime to perform female genital mutilation and cutting on a girl under 18 years of age for non-medical reasons in the state of Maine. The Bill would also make it a Class B crime for a parent, guardian or anyone who has immediate custody of a girl under the age of 18 to consent to or permit female genital mutilation and cutting of a girl.  It also includes removing a girl from the state with the intent for such a procedure.

Strangely enough, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which should be totally against the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting, is against banning FGM/C in the state of Maine.  One would think that the ACLU would be waving flags against anything to do with child abuse.  Instead, the ACLU has been vocal against the banning of the practice in the state of Maine.  They feel that “the risk of mutilation isn’t worth expanding Maine’s criminal code”.  It is mind boggling that ACLU supports this form of child abuse.

The U.S. states without laws against the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting are still covered under the federal law, which was passed in 1996.

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