Column: Mutilation has no place here

Diana Farrington

We were all shocked and outraged when news reports surfaced in February about the barbaric mutilation of two young girls in a Livonia clinic after hours. The procedure, called female genital mutilation, is abhorrent and has no place in society.

I’m grateful to be a part of bipartisan legislation to end this practice in Michigan. Seven female state representatives, with up to 70 co-sponsors for each bill, have taken up the mantle to help protect young girls living in Michigan, and those who would be transported to our state against their will to undergo the procedure.

There are no health benefits for female genital mutilation, serving only as a method of disfiguring women for the purposes of limited sexual stimulation, preserving virginity until marriage and relegating these girls to grow up as second-class members of their families and communities.

Victims can also suffer from continual bladder and urinary infections, complications during sex and childbirth, and elevated cases of infertility. That’s on top of the loss of trust, depression or anxieties that accompany such a despicable procedure.

A Livonia couple was arrested on federal charges in April after allowing and performing the procedure on two Minnesota girls, while a third individual has been fired from an emergency room doctor position for performing the procedure at the same facility. Unfortunately, there have been more shocking details about terrible incident almost daily and that only adds to the urgency to move forward in Lansing.

While we are pleased these steps have been taken against the three adults involved in the incident, little can be done for the two young girls brought into our state to be brutalized. As state legislators, we cannot allow one more child to be subjected to this horrific procedure regardless of the circumstances or the reasoning for doing it.

Although this procedure is prohibited under federal law, there currently is no law banning the procedure in Michigan. It’s important to criminalize this procedure under state law as well because Michigan will then have more control over prosecuting those who perpetrate this heinous crime. Victims also will be more likely to get justice under tandem laws.

Our legislation prohibits the act of performing a genital mutilation, but it also addresses measures for transportation of the minor to the procedure, removal of a medical license, and extending the statute of limitations for criminal and civil penalties.

We’re also calling for development of an educational program to assist statewide health and law enforcement officials in identifying when someone is a victim of this barbaric act. And our resolution has Michigan joining many fellow states, along with other countries around the world, in discouraging this practice.

Across political and religious lines, we stand together to help protect young girls throughout our state. We’re united because this is an attack on all children, whether it’s your own or from the next town over.

As citizens, we’re entrusted to raise our children in loving environments and ensure all children are gently guided into adulthood. Subjecting young people to brutality demands a swift response from our system of criminal justice.House-approved legislation has been forwarded to Gov. Snyder for his review and possible signature into law, following a concurrent vote on Tuesday.

We look forward to this being enacted into law soon.

Rep. Diana Farrington, R-Utica, represents Michigan’s 30th House district.