Horrific Livonia incident spurs introduction of state legislation to criminalize female genital mutilation

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Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, introduced Senate Bill 347 on Thursday that would make the crime commonly known as “female genital mutilation” (FGM) a felony under state law.

While FGM is currently a federal crime, Michigan doesn’t have a specific FGM law on the books. For that reason, the state would have to rely either solely on federal action or see local prosecutors attempt to press charges under broader state laws that may increase the likelihood of a perpetrator going free.

“When you see people coming in from other states to have their young girls subjected to this barbaric procedure, it begs the question as to why Michigan would be an attractive place to have these unconscionable practices done,” Sen. Colbeck said. “In order to increase the chance of successful prosecution, to ensure that we don’t have to rely solely on federal attorneys, and to make sure perceived leniency doesn’t encourage others to come here, justice requires that we pass a state law as quickly as possible.”

FGM as defined in the bill would include procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the genitals of minor-aged females for non-medical reasons. The procedures can lead to problems urinating, can complicate childbirth later in life, and are often designed to make sexual intercourse unpleasant.

“We have all sadly heard about the tragic events that occurred recently in Livonia where little girls as young as 6 years old were mutilated by a local physician,” Sen. Colbeck said. “It is a tragedy that 200 million women worldwide have been victims of this procedure, and this type of violence against women has no place in our state or society.”

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Colbeck, would make FGM a felony under state law, punishable by six years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine to mutilate young girls in this manner. The $250,000 fine is substantially higher than the federal punishment.

“Because there are many instances where jail time can be avoided in our criminal justice system today, we want to make sure that the fine amount can really hurt these people financially as well,” Sen. Colbeck said. “The federal fine is capped much too low, so our Michigan law will set a $250,000 fine to serve as a real deterrent even if these people feel they can hire slick lawyers to avoid jail time.”

Sen. Judy Emmons introduced Senate Bill 348, a companion bill that would create the sentencing guidelines to reflect the new crime.

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