FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (H 4606) – The House gave initial approval to a bill making it a crime to perform female genital mutilation on anyone under the age of 18. Offenders would be subject to up to five years in state prison; or a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 2.5 years in a house of correction.

Supporters say that it is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been the victims of this barbaric act. They note that the procedure has no health benefits for women and girls and, in fact, can cause all kinds of health problems including bleeding, urinary problems and complications in childbirth sometimes leading to the death of the child.

“Female genital mutilation is not medically necessary and offers absolutely no health benefits, but it carries serious health-related risks and can cause lifelong psychological and emotional trauma,” said sponsor House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading). “We must serve as both a voice and a shield for those young girls that are most at risk for female genital mutilation.”

“We need to tear down societal controls of women’s bodies and this bill is one step towards that goal,” said co-sponsor Rep. Jay Livingstone (D-Boston). “The bipartisan bill would ban genital mutilation, a brutal practice of permanently injuring the sex organs of young girls to physically limit their ability to have sex. It is time for Massachusetts to join the other 38 states that have adopted such a ban.”

“It is imperative that Massachusetts steps up and adopts this bipartisan legislation to make it clear that female genital mutilation/cutting will not be tolerated in the commonwealth,” said co-sponsor Rep. Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster).

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