COVID-19 Update: We are open and serving our clients. Learn More >>>
Member of:
Justia Lawyer Rating
American Association for Justice
Union Plus

NY Penal Law § 130.85: Genital Mutilation

Under New York Penal Code § 130.85 female genital mutilation is a sex crime that involves circumcising, excising or infibulating any part of the labia or clitoris of a girl who is under 18 years old. Even if you are not the person who does the circumcising, excising or infibulating, you will still face a charge of female genital mutilation if you are a parent or guardian of a girl who is under the age of 18 years old and you consent to the circumcision, excision or infibulation of any part of her labia or clitoris. However, you will not have committed this crime if the procedure was necessary for medical reasons and was performed by a licensed medical practitioner or a midwife. While some view female removing female genitalia as a cultural rite, under New York law it is clearly a sex crime.


A young girl and her family recently relocated from Ethiopia to New York. The girl's parents arranged for the girl to undergo an excision, which is the removal of the clitoris and the labia minora. The procedure was performed in the family's apartment by a friend of the family who had performed many such procedures in Ethiopia. The girl's parents as well as the person who performed the procedure could be prosecuted for the crime of female genital mutilation. Even though the parents did not perform the procedure, they could be prosecuted under New York Penal Code § 130.85 because they consented to the procedure.

Related Offenses
  1. Forcible touching: New York Penal Code § 130.52
  2. Facilitating a sexual offense with a controlled substance: New York Penal Code § 130.90

Under New York Penal Code § 130.85(2) medical necessity is a defense to a charge of female genital mutilation. However, in order to raise this defense you must be a licensed medical professional, a midwife, or are training to become a midwife. In addition, there must be a medical reason for performing the circumcision, excision or infibulation. If the sole reason for performing the procedure is as a custom or ritual, then you will have committed a sex crime.

Female circumcision, excision and infibulation is only a sex crime if it performed on a child. A child is defined as girl who is under the age of 18 years old. Thus, if the victim is 18 years or older you would have a defense to this charge. However, knowledge that the victim was under 18 years old is not a element of this crime. This means that you do not have a defense simply because you were unaware that the child was under 18 years old


Because female genital mutilation is a class E felony the possible sentence is up to 4 years in prison. Particularly if you have no prior convictions, the judge may choose to sentence you to a probation term of 10 years instead of sending you to prison.

New York Penal Code § 130.85: Female genital mutilation
  1. A person is guilty of female genital mutilation when:
    1. a person knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not reached eighteen years of age; or

    2. being a parent, guardian or other person legally responsible and charged with the care or custody of a child less than eighteen years old, he or she knowingly consents to the circumcision, excision or infibulation of whole or part of such child`s labia majora or labia minora or clitoris.

  2. Such circumcision, excision, or infibulation is not a violation of this section if such act is:
    1. necessary to the health of the person on whom it is performed, and is performed by a person licensed in the place of its performance as a medical practitioner; or

    2. performed on a person in labor or who has just given birth and is performed for medical purposes connected with that labor or birth by a person licensed in the place it is performed as a medical practitioner, midwife, or person in training to become such a practitioner or midwife.

  3. For the purposes of paragraph (a) of subdivision two of this section, no account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom such procedure is to be performed of any belief on the part of that or any other person that such procedure is required as a matter of custom or ritual.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

While you may feel strongly that the activities described as female genital mutilation should not be considered a crime as they are a cultural rite of passage, New York law does not view it that way. If you are accused of this crime you may end up being convicted of a felony. For this reason it is important to immediately contact experienced representation as soon as you are accused of female genital mutilation or any other sex crime. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with sex crimes such as aggravated sexual abuse, criminal sexual act in the first degree as well as other sex crimes such as sexual misconduct, criminal sexual act, forcible touching, sexual abuse, sexual conduct against child, female genital mutilation, and facilitating a sexual offense with a controlled substance. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
My wife and I met under some unconventional circumstances. After I had some legal problems, Mr Bilkis and his firm continually got me out of trouble. I then had his firm represented my wife and he got her out of trouble! We are still married and got our ways straightened away. We both can't thank him enough for saving our lives and our families! J.P.
I contacted Stephen Bilkis' office for an issue regarding a family member and I could not be happier with the results. I have recommended the firm to friends and family, all of whom were also ecstatic with Mr. Bilkis and all members of his staff. P.R.
I was in need of legal assistance for a very sensitive matter for a family member. I contacted the law offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC and was met with staff whose demeanor was supportive, compassionate and professional. The lawyer handling our case had many years of experience and treated us as if we were his own family. Our experience was so good, and we became so close to all of the staff and all of the attorneys who assisted us, that we consider them our extended family and continue to send them our home baked gifts for the holidays. P.A.K.
I hired Stephen Bilkis and Associates to represent me on a legal matter a few months ago and am grateful for their swift action and resolution on my behalf. I was impressed with their professionalism and would recommend them to friends and family in a heartbeat. M.B.