A new bill introduced recently in the Michigan Senate aims to outlaw FGM or female genital mutilation. Although this may seem like a strange subject to outlaw in Michigan, where it is hardly a regular occurrence, the recent FGM-related arrests in the Detroit area have stirred up the subject. As a result, numerous legislators have decided that the Great Lakes state needs to take a firm stand on the subject of genital cuttings performed on minors.
Currently there are 24 states in the U.S., as well as the federal government, who have outlawed FGM. A growing group of Michigan lawmakers hope to add our state to that list in a way that makes it patently obvious that female genital mutilation will not be tolerated here in Michigan. Proponents of the bills say that federal law isn’t harsh enough. A new state law would increase the severity of the punishments for those convicted of FGM in Michigan, and would also speed up the process of prosecution.
Senate Bill 337 establishes female genital mutilation as a crime, while SB 338 spells out the sentencing guidelines. If this bill makes it into law, FGM would be a 15 year felony in Michigan, as opposed to the 5 year sentence handed down by the federal government. The reason for the harsher penalty, says Senator Margaret O’Brien who co sponsored the bills, is that lawmakers want to send a clear message that this type of crime is viewed as a form of sexual assault against a child.
The bills are currently supported by Senator Rick Jones, who called the practice “demonic.”
Jones has also stated that he believes it to be a form of human rights violation. Jones is the former sheriff of Eaton County, MI. Other senators who support the bills include Margaret O’Brien, who said she was sickened when she heard about the female genital cutting case here in Michigan, and Tonya Schuitmaker, who claims that there is no room in Michigan for that kind of barbarism.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, about “200 million girls and women alive today are believed to have been subjected to FGM” and rates are steadily growing. However, here in the US, FGM is far less common, being limited to small underground pockets where for cultural and religious reasons, certain people still practice this particular rite.
For those of you not familiar with the mutilation case going on in Detroit right now, it started with a single female doctor, 44-year-old Jumana Nagarwala of Northville being charged with performing genital cuttings on two young girls from Minnesota, aged 6 and 8. Less than a week late, another set of charges were brought, this time against Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida Attar who are accused of assisting Nagarwala. Since then, several more victims have been located.
Given how particular Michigan law can be about certain practices, it can be confusing for some people to know what’s legal and what isn’t. This is more common for people who weren’t raised in Michigan, or whose religions and cultures are not considered to be mainstream in the U.S. With that in mind, if you have any questions about Michigan law and how it may affect your religious and cultural practices, please contact our experienced defense attorneys at 1 800-576-6035. We are here to help you.