Minnesota Senate Says “No” to FGM Legislation

The Republican-led Senate stuns voters with their decision to forgo hearing a bill that would enhance criminal penalities against those who practice female genital mutilation in the United States.

Image Credit: Twitter-Rep. Mary Franson

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The republican-held senate will not cast a vote on enhancing the criminal penalties for female genital mutilation before midnight Monday.

Alpha News reported on the passage of Rep. Mary Franson’s (R-Alexandria) bill on female genital mutilation in the Minnesota House, where it was passed 124-4, even earning the vote of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis), the first Somali legislator.

Franson’s bill would institute a felony charge against parents who force their daughters to have the procedure. It would also enhance criminal charges against the medical practitioner who performed the procedure. The felony charge would carry a jail sentence of five to 20 years and possible deportation. Parents would be stripped of their children by Child Protective Services (CPS) should they have broken the law.

“Little girls are endanger of genital mutilation here in Minnesota,” Franson said. “HF 2621 makes it clear that parents will be held accountable for allowing someone to perform female genital mutilation on their daughter.”

Franson was inspired to pass the bill after two young Minnesota girls were found to be mutilated after their parents sent them to a doctor’s office in Michigan to have the procedure done. The doctor and several others are now facing a federal trial.

Now, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate seem to be walking back on their efforts to join the lower chamber in passing the bill’s counterpart.

While author of the House counterpart Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point) did not reply to Alpha News for comment, she did tell the Star Tribune, “How can we empower communities to address this practice from within rather than having Big Brother come down and say, ‘This is wrong?’ ”

Franson isn’t impressed, telling Alpha News, “The Governor has indicated he would sign the bill however he needs a bill to sign. Without the Senate taking action, how many more little girls are going to be subjected to torture and lifelong health issues including psychological trauma. We better pray that another little girl isn’t subjected to this torture between now and next year.”

Those in the Senate say they plan to take a look at the bill when the next session starts in February 2018.

Men and women supporting Franson’s legislation are to the Capitol on Friday to lobby the Senate to pass the bill.

Several groups, including Isuroon, a nonprofit Somali women’s organization are pushing back against Senate Republicans stating that the penalties against the parents are too severe.

Groups against Franson’s bill cite concern of those emigrating from countries who have already had the procedure done in their home country being caught up in the bill’s stiff penalties. However, Franson’s bill includes a clause that notes only those who perform female genital mutilation while living in the United States can be held criminally liable.

“We need to end the identity politics and do what’s right. FGM is a human’s right issue, a woman’s health issue and a gender violence issue. It has no place in the United States of America,” Franson said.

The Senate has said they would look to take the issue up next year, when session starts again in February 2018.

Franson’s disappointment and message is very clear, “If we were talking about any other body part, perhaps the Senate would take female genital mutilation seriously. However, it seems misogyny has won out this year.”


Preya Samsundar

Preya Samsundar was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities this Spring with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Strategic Communications. Preya has previously worked on several State Campaign Races.