July 12 (UPI) -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed 13 bills pertaining to female genital mutilation, which is now a felony in the state punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
In signing the legislation Tuesday, Snyder said, "Those who commit these horrendous crimes should be held accountable for their actions, and these bills stiffen the penalties for offenders while providing additional support to victims. This legislation is an important step toward eliminating this despicable practice in Michigan while empowering victims to find healing and justice."
The statutes, begun in House Bills 4636, 4637, 4639, 4641, 4642, 4661 and 4690 and Senate Bills 337, 338, 368, and 369, collectively make performing or assisting with female genital mutilation a state felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment. They also provide penalties for transporting a person to a state for the procedure; set the statute of limitations for the crime to 10 years; include a process for revocation of the medical license of a person who performs the procedure; allows victims to file civil lawsuits and create an education outreach program to publicize the health risks of female genital mutilation.
The rush for legislation in the state against female genital mutilation, the practice of ritual cutting or removal of external female genitalia, was prompted by the case of two doctors and the wife of a physician who face federal charges for the genital cuttings of two girls, each 7, earlier this year in Livonia, Mich. The defendants are each a member of a small Indian Muslim sect which regards the practice as a religious ritual.