Female Genital Mutilation Remains Legal Across Most Of Region While Idaho Eyes Legislation

Originally published on February 27, 2019 4:12 pm

Idaho may soon follow Colorado's lead and pass legislation banning female genital mutilation. Late last year, a federal ban on female genital mutilation was ruled unconstitutional. The judge for the Eastern District of Michigan said that the practice falls under "local criminal activity" and thus a state responsibility.

Before the ruling, Idaho state Representative Priscilla Giddings said a state ban wasn't on her radar.

"We didn't see much of a need for it," she said.

But after the decision, she began drafting a bill. Giddings said Idaho has welcomed refugees from African countries where the practice is common.

"Based on the number of refugees from those countries and the percentage of young women that are in that age group, we would guesstimate that we have close to about 600 young women who are at risk," she said.

The bill would make female genital mutilation of children a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

According to the AHA Foundation which lobbies against the practice, 22 states do not have anti-female genital mutilation laws on the books. That includes Utah, Wyoming and Montana. AHA estimates there are 438 women at risk for female genital mutilation in Wyoming; 1,769 in Utah; 8,705 in Colorado; and 302 in Montana.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2019 Wyoming Public Radio. To see more, visit Wyoming Public Radio.