The Senate Health and Welfare Committee has voted to strengthen current law banning female genital mutilation (FGM) by approving a bill sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) that requires healthcare providers to report it to law enforcement authorities in the same way gunshot wounds or meth fires are reported. Female genital mutilation is practiced on young girls and women in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, as well as locations in the United States where FGM-practicing immigrants reside, including Tennessee.
Last year, 21 cases of FGM were reported in Tennessee hospitals.
“FGM is a barbaric practice,” said Senator Ketron. “The victims are often young girls. It is steeped in inequality and is a severe form of gender-based violence. This bill aims to ensure it has no place in Tennessee.”
Current law requires healthcare providers and facilities to report injuries to patients that are a result of violence to local law enforcement personnel, and failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor. Likewise, Senate Bill 2559 requires health care providers to report injuries that result from illegal FGM to the appropriate law enforcement officials and the district attorney general.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to FGM. The practice, which has serious health risks, is widely acknowledged as a human rights violation against women.