State Sen. Bill Ketron Questions Why No Cases of Female Genital Mutilation Have Been Reported in Tennessee Since 2012

State Senator Bill Ketron is questioning why no cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) have been reported since 2012, after his bill requiring healthcare providers to report suspected incidents of FGM to law enforcement officials, including the district attorney general’s office, became state law.

Ketron sponsored the 2012 bill after the Hospital Association “slipped us the information” that at least twenty-one cases of FGM in Tennessee had been reported at that time.

Tennessee criminalized FGM as a Class D felony in 1996, but as Ketron told The Star, “we had no mechanism for reporting under previous law which was a barrier to prosecution. So, that is what [his 2012] bill was about – to stop this act from occurring in our state.”

Ketron’s response to the absence of reporting is a bill passed 9-0 by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday. This bill requires the District Attorney Generals to annually report the number of FGM cases reported to their offices to the Senate Judiciary and House Criminal Justice Committees. While presenting the bill to the Committee, Ketron questioned the absence of any reporting since 2012, given the fact that twenty-one cases of FGM had already been reported.

He told the committee that his bill will allow better tracking of the cases, but doesn’t know whether people are going out of state to have the FGM performed, but that “we know our population is continuing to increase and these types of actions are still taking place.”

Sen. Joey Hensley, a practicing physician, spoke in support of the new FGM reporting requirement reiterating that healthcare providers are required by law to report cases of FGM but questioned whether all healthcare providers are aware of the reporting requirement. He also expressed concern that “unfortunately [FGM] is related to a certain religion and I’m afraid that some of the providers honestly may be afraid to report, afraid that they may be labeled a bigot or something.”

Data compiled in a 2013 report by The Population Reference Bureau shows that the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked 20th in the country for the potential risk of FGM and Tennessee is number 18 in overall state rankings for risk to women and girls from FGM. The dramatic increase of risk is attributed to immigrants, including refugees, who come to the U.S. from high FGM prevalence countries. Federal contractors in Tennessee have been resettling refugees from countries including Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sudan, listed in the PRB report as among the “Top 10 Countries of Origin” where FGM is practiced.

Refugees from these countries continue to be resettled in Tennessee.

UNICEF’s statistical overview of FGM shows that “girls and women who have been cut are more likely to favour maintaining the practice” and that for reasons including social acceptance and religious compliance, girls are mutilated even when their mothers oppose FGM. Anywhere from fifty to sixty-five percent of girls and women in Egypt, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Somalia, support continuing the practice of FGM.

Shortly after the first prosecution was filed in Michigan last year, Senator Ketron told The Star that he would look at whether Tennessee’s law for reporting FGM was serving its purpose which was to “give law enforcement authorities the information to stop this inhumane practice” by “getting the reporting in place so this crime could be prosecuted just like other cases of violence are reported and prosecuted.”

Having been passed by the Senate committee, Ketron’s bill will be voted on by the full Senate possibly as early as next week. The companion bill in the House sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison is scheduled to be heard by the House Health Subcommittee next Wednesday.






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3 Thoughts to “State Sen. Bill Ketron Questions Why No Cases of Female Genital Mutilation Have Been Reported in Tennessee Since 2012”

  1. Ron Bonny

    How many cases of MALE genital mutilation (circumcision) have been reported?

    1. 83ragtop50

      Not the same thing and you know it.

  2. 83ragtop50

    Surely those “refugees” are just immediately adhering to American values as soon as the Catholic Charities dumps them on Tennessee. That would explain the lack of reports of FGM. Thank you Senator Ketron for shining a light on this barbaric practice of mutilation.