Slamming female genital mutilation as a “grotesque, barbaric practice” the United States is moving to triple penalties for people convicted of performing the sickening procedure.
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill sponsored by Michigan Republican Dave Trott that would raise penalties from five years in prison to 15.
The bill was triggered when federal charges were filed in Detroit involving two doctors who are accused of performing the procedure on two 7-year-old girls. They are suspected of cutting up to 100 girls.
“The criminals committing this horrific act against small children are not doctors. They are butchers. And state medical licensing boards should act accordingly,” Virginia Republican and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said.
The Stopping Abusive Female Exploitation (SAFE) Act — also sponsored by New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney — applies to the cutting of genitals of girls and women younger than age 18.
FGM has been a federal crime since 1996.
“We realized that our federal statutes weren’t really consistent with what some other countries are doing around the world,” Trott told the Detroit News. “I don’t know if raising it from five years to 15 years is enough of a disincentive for doctors not to be doing this, but it’s certainly a start.”
In Canada, the Liberal government — while calling the practise “abhorrent ” — has done little to tackle FGM. It’s believed there are cutters operating in the country, others are imported from Africa and the Middle East and sometimes the girls are sent over for the procedure.
There has never been an FGM conviction in Canada. The Criminal Code considers the crime an assault.
But in the UK, criminals performing the procedure are looking at 14 years in jail. In France, they face up to 20 years in prison.
In Detroit, eight people have been charged with what’s being called a 12-year conspiracy the FBI says involved cutting prepubescent girls as by members of a small Muslim sect from India called the Dawoodi Bohra.
Defense lawyers in the Michigan case claim the procedure was not FGM and benign.
But Goodlatte called current penalties “insufficient” in light of the CDC’s 2016 report that about 513,000 American women and girls had been subjected to the procedure.
“[Female genital mutilation] is a grotesque, barbaric practice that provides no health benefits for women and girls, and has long-lasting and harmful physical and psychological consequences,” Goodlatte said .
Originally posted on the Toronto Sun: