FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Senate unanimously approved legislation Wednesday that would ban female genital mutilation.
“This is a very difficult subject to discuss,” said Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, a Republican from Louisville, who sponsored Senate Bill 72, along with Republican Senator Whitney Westerfield from Crofton, “Female genital mutilation is one of the most egregious forms of child abuse. It is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women.”
The World Health Organization states female genital mutilation, often referred to as FGM, includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is mostly carried out on young girls.
Adams said Kentucky is among 15 states where it is still legal. A federal ban that had been in place for more than two decades was found unconstitutional in 2018.
SB 72 would make performing FGM on minors a felony. It would also ban trafficking girls across state lines for FGM 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. 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.
An educational component of SB 72 would provide outreach to communities and professionals likely to encounter FGM cases and mandate training for law enforcement. While presenting the bill, Adams cited a study that found 1,845 girls or women are at risk or have undergone FGM – just in Kentucky.
SB 72 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.