Categories: Hoitenga News 06Jun Committee advances bill to ban female genital mutilation The House Law and Justice Committee approved bipartisan legislation today to prevent female genital mutilation in Michigan, a week after hearing testimony from state representatives on the package that includes seven bills and one resolution.Female genital mutilation (FGM) is any procedure performed on girls, starting at the age of 4, which is intended to remove or damage the external female genitalia.“This is comprehensive legislation to prevent this inhumane procedure,” said state Rep. Michele Hoitenga, of Manton. “It took a lot of work, but I’m proud of how we’ve come together to help protect young girls.”She was joined by fellow state Reps. Diana Farrington of Utica and Beth Griffin of Mattawan, in testifying as a unit before the committee on May 30.“This terrible act is indefensible, which is why we’ve included language that will not allow a customary belief or parental consent to be used to justify the mutilation,” Farrington said. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking that young girls are subjected to this, especially when they are being misled into thinking that it is a routine operation. It’s not and there’s no excuse for it.”Griffin said: “We need to ensure that not only do we hold people criminally liable for doing this, but we also give victims a clear ability to pursue this in a civil action. The House package is really looking to take a wide-ranging and comprehensive approach to preventing this, punishing those who commit these heinous acts, and giving victims civil recourse as well.”The legislative package includes bills from Rep. Daire Rendon, of Lake City, which sets the sentencing guidelines. Rep. Klint Kesto, of Commerce Township, had his bill calling for the revocation of a state medical license for anyone convicted under the legislation also approved.“This act is a horrific ordeal for any victim and anyone who is involved should be prepared for incarceration,” Rendon said. “My hope is anyone who doesn’t understand this procedure is absolutely wrong understands that 15 years in prison is a long time.”Kesto said: “Doctors swear an oath to ‘do no harm’ and female genital mutilation inflicts nothing but harm. Any medical professional who harms a young girl this way should lose his or her privilege to practice medicine for not following that oath.”The committee also approved a bill from Rep. Bronna Kahle, of Adrian, which extends the criminal statute of limitations for FGM survivors until 10 years after the offense or the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later.“The girls who suffer mutilation have faced a barbaric act few of us can comprehend,” said Kahle. “They should not be expected, at such a young age, to fully understand the lifelong impact of the damaging injuries they have endured.”The legislation follows a February incident where two young girls from Minnesota were subjected to the procedure at a southeast Michigan clinic. 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 the procedure at the same Livonia clinic.The legislative package includes:House Bill 4636, sponsored Hoitenga, creates a felony offense for performing the procedure.HB 4637, sponsored by Farrington, makes it a felony offense to transport another for the purpose of performing the procedure.HB 4638, sponsored by Rendon, establishes that violation of HB 4636 or 4637 will result in imprisonment up to 15 years.HB 4639, sponsored Kesto, requires the permanent revocation of a state medical license for anyone convicted under the law established by HB 4636 and 4637.HB 4641, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Chang, extends the statute of limitations for FGM survivors to sue for civil damages after their 18thHB 4642, sponsored by Rep. Pam Faris, requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to develop an FGM educational program for the public, including new immigrants.HB 4661, sponsored by Griffin, allows FGM survivors to recover up to three times actual damages, including non-monetary damages costs and attorney fees, during a civil case.HB 4690, sponsored by Kahle, extends the criminal statute of limitations for FGM survivors until 10 years after the offense or the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later.House Resolution 105, submitted by Rep. Donna Lasinski, supports the United Nations’ ongoing efforts to end the procedure.The legislation advances to the House for its consideration.