A criminal case involving two Minnesota girls has prompted Michigan to impose harsher punishments for anyone involved in the practice of female genital mutilation.
Although genital mutilation is banned under federal law, it only carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, and on Tuesday Michigan became the 26th state to impose its own law regarding the practice.
Anyone found to be involved in the performing of female genital mutilation faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years, under new guidelines approved by Gov. Rick Snyder that come into force this October.
It follows an ongoing criminal case involving Michigan doctor Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, who is accused of carrying out genital cutting procedures on two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota. Feds say as many as 100 girls may have been victimized over a 12-year period.
Two people, clinic owner Dr. Fahkruddin Attar and his wife Farida, are accused of assisting Nagawala in carrying out the procedures. It can involve cutting and removing all or part of the clitoral skin, and is often used to suppress female sexuality.
"Those who commit these horrendous crimes should be held accountable for their actions, and these bills stiffen the penalties for offenders while providing additional support to victims," Snyder said.
The three people accused in the case involving the Minnesota girls are currently awaiting trial for what is believed to be the first time charges have been brought under the federal law that criminalizes female genital mutilation.
Minnesota is considering stepping up its own such laws, with the most recent legislative session seeing a bill proposed that would hold the parents responsible if any child undergoes female genital mutilation.