Michigan's Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed 13 bills on Tuesday that a related to a court case involving a Muslim physician and female genital mutilation that occurred this April in Livonia, a Detroit suburb. “Those who commit these horrendous crimes should be held accountable for 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 principal bill would make female genital mutilation a felony in Michigan and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A 1996 federal law concerning female genital mutilation prescribes a sentence of only up to five years in prison. Michigan thus joins about 24 other states that have passed measures against female genital mutilation over the last two decades.

Currently, two physicians and the wife of one of them are now facing federal charges for allegedly engaging in the mutilation of two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota at a Livonia clinic this year. That case remains unresolved.

Other bills in the package of legislation are HB 4636-4641, 4661,  4690 and SB 337-338, 368-369 and 410, which penalize the transportation of a person to another state for the purpose of female genital mutilation, sets the statute of limitations for the crime at 10 years, revokes the medical license of physicians who conduct female genital mutilation, and allows victims to file civil lawsuits. In addition, an education outreach program would be created to inform the public about the risks associated with female genital mutilation.

While female genital mutilation is not specifically prescribed in the Koran, the practice is almost entirely limited to Muslim societies. 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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