New push to criminalize female genital mutilation in Maine

A Maine lawmaker says she’s not giving up on a bill that appears to be dead.

Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) is calling on her colleagues in the House and Senate to make female genital mutilation illegal, and there’s a slight chance her bill could get new life later this week.

The bill is also getting a boost after actress Kelly Carlson posted a video online.

“Call your representatives and tell them to prohibit female genital mutilation in the great state of Maine,” said actress Kelly Carlson in a video posted online.

According to the World Health Organization, the cutting is most often done on girls in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

“I live and work in Hollywood but my family roots are in Maine,” Carlson said in the video.

Sirocki’s bill was rejected by the House last month.

L.D. 745 would criminalize female genital mutilation, or FGM, making it a Class B crime to perform the procedure on someone under 18 and also allowing their parent or guardian to face charges.

“If it prohibits one girl from being cut, it’s worth the law,” Sirocki said.

The clerk of the House said Monday the bill is dead.

“It actually is not dead. The Senate does plan on amending this bill on Wednesday and then it will come back to the House for another vote,” Sirocki said.

Mainers Against Mutilation of Girls is pushing people to call Speaker of the House Sara Gideon and ask her to bring the bill back.

Gideon’s office told CBS 13 the speaker was unavailable to talk with us on Monday.

While the practice has been illegal under federal law for two decades, 25 states have passed their own laws making the practice illegal.

State Senator Mark Dion (D-Portland) is against the practice but also opposes the bill.

He told us last month it could already be prosecuted as assault or sexual abuse.

“I’m a conservative about the criminal codes. While I think we have an adequate code some states do not have a model penal code like we do,” Dion said.

But Sirocki said the practice is happening in Maine and prosecutors need more tools to fight it.

“Because federal prosecutors take up so few cases it is the state prosecutors that generally deal with these kinds of issues,” Sirocki said.

Originally posted on WGME 13:

http://wgme.com/news/local/new-push-to-criminalize-female-genital-mutilation-in-maine

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