HARRISBURG, Pa. (WKBN) – Democratic and Republican lawmakers came out in support of a bill that would make the act of female genital mutilation, or FGM, illegal in Pennsylvania.
House Bill 413 would make it a crime to cut or allow someone to circumcise or excise the genitals of an underage girl.
FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
The World Health Organization estimates that 140 million women and children worldwide have been affected by FGM.
According to the AHA Foundation, which came out in support of House Bill 413, more than 500,000 women and girls are at risk of FGM in the United States. Nineteen thousand of them are in Pennsylvania.
Despite bipartisan support, House Bill 413 has been stuck in the Judiciary Committee for years.
“It has been suggested in the past that the aggravated assault statute in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is adequate to prosecute this crime, and that is simply not an accurate assessment,” said State Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia), who sponsored the bill. “The aggravated assault statute requires a malicious intent, which does not exist here.”
House Speaker Mike Turzai spoke in support of the bill on Monday, encouraging a move to the House floor for consideration.