In Minnesota, the state’s Democratic leaders are perplexed by whether to advance a bill banning the barbaric, Third-World practice of female genital mutilation.
After first passing the bill unanimously in the state House last week, lawmakers are now having “second thoughts” about whether to continue pushing the bill through to the governor’s desk, according to a report in the Star-Tribune.
The bill’s GOP sponsor said her colleagues in the Senate have gone wishy-washy on the bill due to pushback from certain segments of the refugee-resettlement industry, which is very powerful in Minnesota, getting paid millions in federal dollars annually to distribute Somali refugees throughout the state.
The bill would crack down on parents who submit their daughters to the grisly procedure in which doctors remove all or part of a girl’s clitoris.
If passed, the bill would revoke parental custody and set a prison term of five to 20 years for any parent found guilty of having their daughter mutilated. The bill was introduced and quickly passed by the House following revelations last month that two Detroit-area doctors had been arrested and charged with practicing FGM on two 7-year-old Muslim girls from Minnesota.
The Minnesota parents allegedly delivered their girls to Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, one of two Muslim physicians in the Detroit area accused of secretly performing FGM.
But now the bill has stalled as some liberal legislators are publicly voicing concerns in the local Minneapolis newspaper that the bill’s penalties are “overly harsh.”
Instead of removing children from their families and sending parents to jail, critics say the state should use public tax dollars to try to “educate” the large population of Third-Worlders in the state on why it is wrong to mutilate their daughters’ genitalia.
According to UNICEF, the pre-Medieval practice continues to be performed on a majority of girls in Somalia, Egypt, Sudan, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali, Guinea, and parts of Yemen, India and Pakistan.
A Centers for Disease Control study from last year estimates that 513,000 U.S. girls and women are at risk of having their genitals mutilated.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Mary Franson, told the Star-Tribune her intent was to send a strong message that FGM won’t be tolerated in Minnesota.
“America is the land of the brave and the home of the free,” she said. “Little girls who moved here from other countries have the right to be free from the oppression of female genital mutilation.”
The practice is already banned by a federal law passed by Congress in 1996. But the federal law is rarely enforced and doesn’t call for the removal of parental custody, although it does carry a penalty of up to 10 years for any doctor convicted.
The hesitation to pass the bill after first embracing it shows just how powerful the Muslim lobbies are in Minnesota, says former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
“The Islamic anti-American lobby in Minnesota proves once again how committed they are to advancing Islamic Shariah law in America,” Bachmann wrote in an email to WND.
“They oppose Minnesota legislative efforts to protect girls from losing the ability to ever experience physical sexual pleasure within their lifetimes,” she added. “Legislation must inform the Islamic community of the many parts of Sharia law which are illegal when practiced in the U.S. – FGM being but one example.”
But the Minnesota Islamic opponents of this bill have resorted to an “in your face move demanding even the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation should remain protected,” Bachmann said.
“The fact is thousands of Muslim girls are scarred for life every year from this gruesome act,” she said.
“It’s time for Muslim girls to benefit from the protections of Western civilization.”
Bachmann said she encourages the bill’s authors to ignore the “Islamic religious police” and instead think about helping the Muslim community to understand it is “their duty to conform to U.S. law, values and norms.”
Since the bill’s near-unanimous passage in the Minnesota House this week, some longtime critics of the ritual have met with senators, lobbied the governor’s office and handed out fliers — all to raise alarm about the legislation, according to the Star-Tribune.
Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton once told a gathering of Minnesotans they should “find another state” if they are uncomfortable living among the growing Somali refugee community.
The Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage, a nonprofit called Isuroon and other groups are lobbying lawmakers and the governor to back off from the “overly harsh” bill passed by the House.
Now, the author of the Senate version is “voicing second thoughts” about approving the legislation in the current session. Even the Senate GOP leadership has not committed to a course of action, the Star-Tribune reports.
“We all agree this practice is absolutely horrible, and something needs to be done,” the author, Sen. Karin Housley, told the local newspaper. “How can we empower communities to address this practice from within rather than having Big Brother come down and say, ‘This is wrong?’”
Franson, who introduced the House bill, said the Senate is bowing to pressure from groups “more concerned with perception than doing the right thing and protecting girls.”
“Watering down the bill really does a disservice to the little girls who are in danger,” she said.
The bill won support from all but four of the 128 House members who voted, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, the country’s first Somali-American legislator.
Fadumo Abdinur, one of several Somali-American women who testified in favor of the bill, said stiff penalties are needed to root out a practice that leaves girls and women with long-term health problems. Abdinur, who experienced genital cutting, did not get her period until she was 20, and only after a Texas physician partly reversed her procedure. She also suffered painful periods and intercourse.
“I don’t want any girl to go through this,” she said. “I will talk against it for the rest of my life.”
Lul Hersi, a St. Cloud mother of four and a supporter of the bill, says the United States should warn refugee parents against rushing to have their daughters cut before traveling to the United States — and disqualify them from resettlement if they do: “The parents know the risks they’re putting their kids in.”
Fartun Weli of Isuroon, which won a $180,000 federal grant this winter to educate health care providers about the procedure, stresses that she does not condone the practice.
But she and other critics balk at separating girls from their families. They say they worry about families arriving from places where the practice is deeply rooted. An amendment to Franson’s bill states the penalties apply only if the cutting is performed in the United States.
Minnesota has imported more than 50,000 Somali refugees since 1990, most of them resettled by Catholic and Lutheran “charities” that get paid by the federal government on a “per head” basis for every refugee they bring to the state.