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Bill to criminalize FGM fails to pass state lawmakers

A bill to criminalize female genital mutilation in Maine is dead after state lawmakers in the house refuse to take it up again. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) -- A bill to criminalize female genital mutilation in Maine is dead after state lawmakers in the house refuse to take it up again.

Some of the details in this story may be disturbing.

“I think its child abuse. I don’t think any girl should have to go through this.”

L-D 745 proposed to criminalize female genital mutilation, or FGM, making it a class B crime to perform the procedure on someone under 18, also allowing their parent or guardian to face charges.

Kennebec County district attorney Maeghan Maloney says the Maine prosecutor's association supported the bill.

“I prosecute the crimes the legislature gives me so if the legislature wants this prosecuted, I would like the legislature to tell me that clearly.”

According to the world health organization, the cutting is most often done on girls in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but Maloney says it's also increasing among orthodox Christian communities.

She says it can be difficult to prosecute if the defense points to cultural beliefs, which is what happened in another case.

With the precedent, she says, it would be hard to bring charges when a parent has consented to the procedure. However, opponents disagree.

Senator Mark Dion says the act could be prosecuted as an assault or sexual abuse under Maine's criminal code.

“I’m looking at this purely from a law perspective,” he says. “I'm just telling you that if I was the district attorney today and you were the detective, and you brought me those facts, we're going to trial and I'm confident we'll get a conviction.”

The bill sponsor says expects similar legislation to be presented again in two years.

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