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Maine immigrants speak out against female genital mutilation

African immigrants we spoke with tell us they are all too familiar with the practice of female genital mutilation. (WGME)

LEWISTON (WGME) – In Egypt and other middle eastern countries, some Islamic sects encourage female genital mutilation.

The practice is even more common in western, eastern and central African countries.

[Related: She was 7 when she was ritually cut. Now she wants to stop the practice.]

African immigrants we spoke with tell us they are all too familiar with the practice of female genital mutilation. Abdinoor Dekow says he's seen the problems with mutilation first-hand when he was living in refugee camps in Kenya, including heavy bleeding from women during childbirth.

[Related: Michigan House Passes Female Genital Mutilation Legislation]

"They will tell you the problems they have gone through in the waiting time, when they're having the baby," Dekow said.

He says he would never want that for his three daughters.

[Related: Female genital mutilation (FGM)]

"I don't want my daughter to happen like that," Dekow said. "The young ones need to be safe, so that they cannot be like the older women who have been done who have the same problem."

[Related: 26 states still do not have laws criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation]

Somali women we spoke with also say they want the tradition of female genital mutilation to end.

[Related: Data on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the United States]

Local Islamic leaders say this practice has more to do with African culture than Islamic religion.

Members of the Lewiston-Auburn Islamic Society say they don't believe this practice is taking place anywhere in the state. They say immigrants and refugees are told, long before entering this country, that female circumcision is illegal.

Shamsa Abdalla says in her home of Kenya, the practice of female genital mutilation ended three generations before her. And she says it should have no place in America.

[Related: ER doctor accused of performing female genital mutilation on underage patients]

"I don't want that thing to happen to my kids," Abdalla said. "Really, break my heart. Just make me sad and cry."

You can read the bill's full text HERE.

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