Minnesota lawmaker’s push for tougher female genital mutilation law faces opposition

posted by Christopher W. Holton

Republican state legislator Mary Franson has spent two years pushing for a new state law that would allow tougher prosecution of parents who facilitate or allow the genital mutilation of their daughters.

But Franson and supporters of those who want to punish more than just the practitioners of the horribly painful and widely condemned practice are finding opposition, both active and passive, to what its supporters believe should be a legislative no-brainer.

“The bill makes FGM (female genital mutilation) a felony, and it empowers social services to come in and take those children out of the home and remove the parental right from those parents,” Franson told Fox News in an interview. “This is completely on par with child endangerment such as criminal sexual conduct or assault with a dangerous weapon – anything that causes substantial bodily harm.”

An estimated 8,000 girls endure FGM around the world every day, a practice the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies as a serious human rights violation. The practice brings with it serious physical and emotional health consequences, including sexual dysfunction, incontinence, increased risk of HIV transmission, the risk of infection, and uncontrolled bleeding.

But Franson’s efforts have been far from smooth sailing. When her bill first hit the floor in 2017, it faced tough questioning from several lawmakers – among them then-state legislator and current U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who suggested Franson was using the bill as a bid for press attention.

“What I don’t want us to do is to create laws because we want to get in the media,” Omar stated in a committee at the time. “What I would like to have been done is to have (the parents) charged with laws that already exist.”


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