A state Senate bill that would ban female genital mutilation in North Carolina cleared the House by a 116-0 vote Tuesday.
Senate Bill 9 was filed by state Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, on Jan. 31. The bill was approved by the Senate by a 46-0 vote March 25.
The Senate is required to approve a minor change that the House made before the bill is sent to the governor. If signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper, it would go into effect Oct. 1.
The practice is done in parts of India and northern and southern Africa. It’s unclear how many of such procedures are done in North Carolina. It is a criminal offense in 34 states, banned in 59 countries and considered a human-rights violation by the World Health Organization.
However, a federal law banning the act was struck down in November by a federal court in Michigan, which said states should decide what they want to permit.
Krawiec said she filed the bill “because we must protect our girls from this abuse of being mutilated ... and this barbaric procedure.”
“When this issue has been brought up, most people can’t believe it’s not already illegal to do this in North Carolina,” she said.
When asked about the prevalence of female genital mutilation in North Carolina, or what counties are affected in particular, Krawiec has said she is not aware of any specific data for the state.
“We just want to make sure it never happens in North Carolina,” she said.
Krawiec said the federal court ruling could lead people to bring underage girls to North Carolina to have the procedure done without fear of facing a felony.
The bill, if signed into law, would make it a Class C felony — with a 44- to 182-month prison sentence.