Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today unanimously approved by a vote of 409-0 the Stopping Abusive Female Exploitation (SAFE) Act (H.R. 3317). This bill, introduced by Congressman Dave Trott (R-Mich.) and approved by the House Judiciary Committee last month, prevents a horrific crime against women and young girls by increasing the maximum penalty for female genital mutilation.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that at least half a million females in the United States have undergone genital mutilation or are at risk of having it done. While female genital mutilation is illegal in the United States, the federal penalty is much weaker than penalties in other countries. Currently, the first federal case involving female genital mutilation is being tried in Southeast Michigan where two doctors and the wife of one of the doctors have been charged with performing this illegal procedure on two young girls. The SAFE Act combats this human rights abuse by raising the maximum penalty for female genital mutilation from five years to 15 years. It also calls on state governments to ensure that they have proper laws in place for healthcare providers, school officials, and adults to report to local law enforcement about suspected genital mutilation.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) applauded today’s passage of the SAFE Act in the statement below.

Chairman Goodlatte: “It is deeply troubling that many women and young girls in the United States are at risk of female genital mutilation. This barbaric practice violates basic human rights in a horrific way, and we must ensure our laws appropriately deter and punish those seeking to harm women. The SAFE Act contains new tools to fight this human rights abuse, and I thank Congressman Trott for his efforts to protect young girls and women from this heinous crime. I applaud the House for approving this bill and call on the Senate to pass it without delay.”