The State Affairs Committee has approved SB 323, authored by Senator  Nelson, to protect Texas girls from female genitalia mutilation (FGM). All eight women of the Senate have signed on as joint authors.

“This is a cruel and gruesome act. It can cause permanent health damage that will be carried by these girls for the rest of their lives. It has no place in our society,” Senator Nelson said. "We must do everything we can to stop this unacceptable practice."

SB 323 strengthens existing law regarding FGM, which is prohibited under Section 167.001 of the Health and Safety Code as a state jail felony. Specifically, SB 323 ensures that individuals who transport or permit the transport of a person for the purpose of FGM can be prosecuted. In addition, it clearly states that neither custom nor consent can be used as a defense to prosecution.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 513,000 women and girls nationwide are at risk of FGM – a practice in which girls as young as 4 years old are disfigured to maintain their virginity until marriage. AHA Foundation estimates that 25,000 or more are at risk in Texas. Federal law established FGM as a crime in 1996; it is punishable by up to five years in prison. House Bill 91, 76th Texas Legislature, prohibited FGM in Texas. Texas is among 24 states with state laws prohibiting FGM.

SB 323 will now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

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