Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett: ‘I Would Expect Somebody To Have Some Guts and Enforce the Law’ on Reporting Female Genital Mutilation

May 1, 2017

Chris Alto

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett tells The Tennessee Star that female genital mutilation (FGM), which is illegal in Tennessee, is “something out of the dark ages” that must be reported when the barbaric practice is discovered in the Volunteer State.

“I would expect somebody to have some guts and enforce the law. I can’t even imagine that. I’ve got a little girl, I mean I just can’t even imagine that. It sickens me to my core,” he says.

“I can’t believe that in 2017 we’re having this discussion in this country,” Burchett tells The Star.

The Star asked Burchett on Monday to comment on the lack of reporting requirements about FGM to either the Tennessee Department of Health or to the state’s Department of Children’s Services.

Burchett is the first elected official in Tennessee to make the connection between reporting FGM to the Department of Health and medical licensure, noting that, “If anybody in the medical community is performing that, they need to lose their license.”

The Health Professional Boards that oversee licensing for a long list of health care professionals, is a division within the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH). These boards are also responsible for “investigation of alleged violations of the Practice Act and rules and are responsible for the discipline of licensees who are found guilty of such violations. Board members, with few exceptions, are appointed by the Governor.”

Disciplinary actions taken against healthcare professionals in Tennessee by the Health Professional Boards can range anywhere from civil penalties to license suspension to license revocation. All actions are publicized on the TDH website. In compliance with the state’s “Health Care Consumer Right-to-Know Act of 1998,” the TDH also compiles and keeps on file publicly available practitioner profiles.

On April 22, The Star submitted the same questions to both Governor Haslam’s office and gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd’s campaign regarding support for required reporting of FGM to the Tennessee Department of Health, and whether there is reason to believe that appropriate training for healthcare providers to look for the signs and symptoms of FGM is being provided to licensed TN healthcare providers.

Neither the Governor’s office nor the Boyd campaign has responded to date.