Measure Would Criminalize Forced Genital Mutilation of Girls Under 18 Years Old
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg which would make it a crime of the third degree to engage in the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) on females under the age of 18 was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
“Unfortunately, there are cultures and traditions which are actively followed in the world today, in which women have no rights regarding their own body,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “FGM represents the Dark Ages for women’s rights, and reflects a total dismissal and disdain for women being able to decide for themselves regarding issues of sexuality and their sexual health. Through this bill, New Jersey is taking a stand against this barbaric and inhumane practice which treats women as objects and which subjects women to painful, emotionally and physically scarring cultural traditions in the name of some outmoded and outdated idea of purity.”
The bill, S-1171, would prohibit the practice of female genital mutilation in New Jersey. Under the bill, a person would be guilty of a third degree crime if they:
• knowingly circumcise, excise or infibulate, in whole or in part, the labia majora, labia minora or clitoris of a female under 18 years of age;
• are a parent, guardian or have immediate custody of a female under age 18 and knowingly consents to or permits the genital mutilation of that female;
• knowingly remove or permit the removal of a female under the age of 18 from the State for the purpose of genital mutilation.
A crime of the third degree is punishable by sentence of 3 to 5 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
The bill would provide exceptions for a procedure that is medically-necessary to the health of the female and is performed by a licensed health care professional. Additionally, the bill would exempt a procedure that is performed by a licensed health care professional on a female in labor or who has just given birth for medical purposes connected with the labor or birth.
“FGM is a horrific practice which marginalizes the women affected, and inflicts psychological trauma on par with the physical trauma resulting from the procedure,” said Senator Weinberg. “It sends the message that a woman’s sexuality is a thing to be ashamed of, and is better left to the cultural whims of a male oligarchy, rather than the woman herself. We need to speak out in the harshest terms possible, to end the practice of FGM and stand as a beacon to the rest of the world that such intolerant, inhumane and cruel practices will not be allowed to stand.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.