Re: “Greg Kesich: Gov. LePage dreams up phony problem when state has real ones to solve” (March 7):

When a Maine resident asked me to submit legislation to prohibit the secretive cutting ritual known as female genital mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C) , I discovered that this horrific form of child abuse is on the rise and is an issue in our state. In 2013, the Population Reference Bureau stunningly identified almost 400 at-risk girls under the age of 18 in Maine.

In 2016, the Maine Access Immigrant Network was selected as one of only eight states to share a $6 million federal grant by the U.S. DHHS’ Office on Women’s Health to prevent FGM and to help survivors living in the U.S.

FGM is not a religious practice; this ancient ritual has been performed by millions of people of many faiths.

In 2017, my bill (L.D. 745) had broad bipartisan support with 65 sponsors; it frustratingly failed along party lines by one vote.

The Maine Prosecutors Association’s testimony from last year said: “The prosecutors do not feel confident that they can charge someone with committing Female Genital Mutilation without passage of this bill.”

I agree. Maine should join 26 other states and enact clear laws of deterrence. FGM survivor F.A. Cole recently testified, “We shouldn’t wait until there is an ‘actual’ proof of FGM on a girl before a law is put in place. Let us not wait until what happened in Michigan happens in Maine before something gets done.”

While members of the media have been busily casting aspersions, lawmakers are responsibly focused on making laws that help protect vulnerable children from all forms of child abuse, including FGM.

The United Nations calls for “Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation.”

Other international groups, including Equality Now, UNICEF, and the AHA Foundation, also concur – eradicate and educate about this human rights violation.

I stand with the U.N.-Zero Tolerance.

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