AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Advocates and prosecutors joined lawmakers in Augusta Monday to rally behind a bill to make female genital mutilation a felony.
It calls for aligning the definition of FGM in Maine with federal law. The performance of genital mutilation, practiced in some groups for religious or cultural reasons, on a minor would be a Class A crime.
The bill has gained the support of several District Attorneys, including Kennebec and Somerset Counties DA Maeghan Maloney.
Fatuma Hussein, the Executive Director of the Immigrant Resources Center of Maine is a female genital mutilation survivor from Somalia.
She says the practice does not serve a purpose in modern culture and that this bill would outlaw the procedure without criminalizing the parents who might not know otherwise.
"These individuals aren't wrong, but rather misguided. We must engage with these individuals and widen their perspective regarding the performance of culture, gender, and community. To demonize these individuals is wrong," said Hussein.
"It makes female genital mutilation a Class A crime, which is the highest felony that we have in Maine. A Class A crime carries with it up to 30 years in prison also a fine of up to $50,000," said Maloney.
The bill would also let the Department of Health & Human Services create a community outreach education program on the issue in specific communities where genital mutilation of a child might be practiced.