There is a new law in Illinois to help combat the alarming rise of female genital mutilation in the nation thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.
Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) championed House Bill 3498, which removes the statute of limitations for the prosecution for female genital mutilation (also known as FGM) if the victim is under 18 years of at the time of the offense. The measure was signed into law last week.
“Survivors of FGM are often too young to report this horrendous crime,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The emotional and health repercussions of it are lifelong. This new law will give them time and assure them they will have the opportunity to seek justice when they are ready.”
Under previous law, the statute of limitations for FGM is three years, which is the standard for a felony offense. Long thought to be a foreign problem, Bertino-Tarrant stressed that FGM is happening in Illinois. It is estimated that 10,000 to 25,000 women and girls have been cut or are at risk for being cut.
The age at which girls undergo FGM ranges from seven days old to young adulthood; most commonly, it is performed between the ages of two and fifteen.
“This painful and dangerous procedure is often performed at an extremely young age,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This new law will allow survivors to come forward in their own time and help them receive the support they need and deserve.”
According to CNN in 2017, currently only 25 states in the nation have laws that make FGM a crime. The law was supported by the Illinois National Organization for Women.
Representative Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) is the lead sponsor in the House.
The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.