The state of Michigan in the United States on Tuesday made female genital cutting a punishable act both for doctors who perform the procedure and parents who make the child undergo it. Governor Rick Snyder signed the legislation, which includes a 15-year sentence for the crime, reported Reuters.
The move to make female genital cutting a felony comes three months after a doctor from the Bohra sect in Detroit was arrested for performing the procedure on several girls between 2005 and 2017. The FBI arrested Jumana Nagarwala, 44, on April 12 after it received information that she had performed the procedure on two seven-year-olds in February. After reviewing call and hotel records, the agency had tracked down the two minors, who are members of the Bohra community living in Michigan.
“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,” Governor Snyder said.
The Dawoodi Bohra community is the only one in India known to practice female circumcision, which typically involves a cut or nick to the clitoral hood. The practice, called khatna or khafz within the community, is defined by the United Nations as Type-I female genital mutilation, which defines this type as including either the cutting of the clitoral hood or the partial or total removal of the clitoris. It is usually done to girls at a young age.
The practice is not yet illegal in India, but female genital mutilation in any form has been outlawed in several countries around the world, including the United States. The maximum sentence in the United States for female genital mutilation as per federal law is up to five years in jail.