State Lawmakers Move to Outlaw Female Circumcision

Feb 11, 2014

State lawmakers took the first steps Monday toward outlawing what some call female circumcision. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

Sen. Judy Burges

Sen. Judy Burges said Arizona is increasingly becoming home to people from other countries where the practice is considered acceptable. But, Burges said the procedure — her legislation calls it “female genitalia mutilation” — has profound physical and psychological effects on women all their lives. Her measure would make it a felony not only to perform the procedure on a girl younger than 18, but also to take a girl out of Arizona to have that done.

“The practice of female genitalia mutilation absolutely constitutes a war on women’s health. And we right here today, as Arizona elected officials, need to stand to protect women in Arizona from ever having to experience this heinous act and audacious physical assault,” Burges said.

Burges told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee the “culturally forced” procedure is often done with unclean tools and without anesthetic. But, she said her opposition would be no different even if that were not the case. Sen. David Bradley said he did not question that the practice should be illegal. But, he said it may already be covered by existing laws, such as those that make it a crime to assault a minor. And, Bradley said if lawmakers are going to determine that these procedures constitute mutilation, then perhaps the proposal should be extended to procedures done on boys.