Bill banning female genital mutilation advances in Senate

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Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, explaining Senate Bill 72, legislation she introduced to ban female genital mutilation, often referred to as FGM.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A bill that would make female genital mutilation (FGM) illegal was introduced and passed in a Kentucky Senate committee Wednesday.

Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, proposed the legislation and said 1,845 girls or women are at risk or have undergone FGM just in Kentucky, according to the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that promotes evidence-based health and welfare policies.

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A survivor of the procedure, Jennifer, spoke to lawmakers in Frankfort in support of the bill. She said she was only five years old when she underwent FGM.

“I’m here today, not just to tell my story, but for the many others who have not found their voices,” Jennifer said. “We need to send a strong message that we do not support this practice.”

Kentucky is among 15 states where it is still legal, according to information provided to the committee. A federal ban that had been in place for more than two decades was found unconstitutional in 2018.

FGM is any procedure involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or another injury to the female organs for non-medical purposes, said Amanda Parker of the AHA Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to the elimination of the procedure. She said it is typically performed on girls between the ages of 4 and 14, often with a razor blade or pair of scissors.

The bill would make performing the procedure on minors a felony, ban trafficking girls across state lines for the procedure and strip the licenses from medical providers convicted of the practice.

Another provision would classify FGM in state statutes as a form of child abuse and require mandatory reporting of it.

An educational component of the bill would provide outreach to communities and professionals likely to encounter FGM cases and mandate training for law enforcement.

The proposed changes in the law would also allow survivors of FGM to file civil lawsuits against their perpetrators up to 10 years after turning 18.

The bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration.