State Politics

Idaho lawmakers introduce bill to outlaw genital mutilation of children

The dome inside of the Idaho Statehouse, looking up through the rotunda.
The dome inside of the Idaho Statehouse, looking up through the rotunda. Idaho Statesman file

Two Republican lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill in the Idaho Legislature that would outlaw all genital mutilation of children.

A federal law passed in 1996 outlawing female genital mutilation nationwide, but it did not provide any enforcement mechanism, said Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, during the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee.

A federal judge in Michigan last year found that the federal law was unconstitutional, ruling that Congress did not have the authority to pass the law. The court determined that it must be up to the states to regulate the practice, according to a report from The New York Times.

The judge’s decision voided the convictions of two Michigan doctors accused of mutilating several girls whose families were from a small sect of Shiite Muslims who enabled the ritual.

The bill introduced Thursday would make it a felony to commit the act in Idaho. Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, co-sponsored the bill with Giddings, who said that there are now 28 states with anti-female genital mutilation laws.

Giddings said the bill mimics the federal law but extends the statute of limitations to three years after the victim speaks to law enforcement, rather than three years after the act occurred.

Troy noted that this was important because sometimes parents are involved in the genital mutilation and the victim may not be an adult within three years of the time the mutilation occurred.

The bill was unanimously moved forward to the House floor for a reading.

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