Legislator Seeks To Outlaw Female Genital Mutilation In Pennsylvania

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Legislator seeks to outlaw female genital mutilation in Pennsylvania
Christian Alexandersen
Penn Live, Feb. 26, 2015
Also available on the Penn Live website

external image 17114391-mmmain.jpgAnyone caught taking part in the ritualistic, coming of age practice of cutting females’ genitalia in Pennsylvania would be charged with a felony under a proposed law before the General Assembly.

Rep. Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery, has reintroduced a bill that would establish the offense of ‘female mutilation’ in the Pennsylvania criminal code. Individuals who takes part in the removal of a female minor’s genitalia, including a parent, would face a first degree felony.

The tradition female circumcision is practiced in various areas of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston estimates that 6,508 women in Pennsylvania at risk of genital mutilation.

The legislation says that people cannot claim “custom or consent” as a defense.

“Women who are immigrants are at continued risk of the practice, even though they live in the United States, as religious and cultural beliefs follow the women to this country,” Murt said in a memo on his bill.

According to a CNN report, cases of female genital cutting have rarely been documented in the U.S., but much more likely, cutting has moved underground in the U.S. and overseas, advocacy groups and doctors say.

Several states, including New York, Maryland and Delaware, have passed laws against female genital mutilation.

Murt’s bill has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee for review. Murt previously introduced his bill during the 2013-2014 legislative session where it died in the House Judiciary Committee.