Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in favour of Bill C-27. At the outset I would like to respond to the remarks made by the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister who suggested that the track record of the government was to be tough on crime. He said that some of the toughest legislation in the history of the country had been passed by this government.
For the first time in the history of the country convicted rapists are walking free due to Bill C-41 and conditional sentencing. For the first time convicted bank robbers are walking free due to conditional sentencing. For the first time child sex molesters are walking free, thanks to Bill C-41 and conditional sentencing. The hon. member speaks about getting tough on crime and criminals, but actions speak a lot louder than words.
I rise today in support of Bill C-27 although I am concerned that portions of the bill which I will deal with later are unenforceable.
Reform members came to Ottawa in 1993 with a commitment to the Canadian people to reform Parliament. Included in those reforms was a promise to be supportive whenever possible. We promised not to oppose government legislation simply for the sake of opposition. If a bill enhances public safety we will support it. We therefore support the government's initiative in this regard in relation to Bill C-27, in spite of the reservations we have about the unenforceability of some of its sections.
Bill C-27, which is a series of amendments to the Criminal Code dealing with child prostitution, child sex tourism, criminal harassment and female genital mutilation, will help reduce violence against women and children. It is not the only answer. A number of legislative changes must be implemented if we are to continue to eradicate domestic violence and child abuse. Attention must be focused on crime prevention, starting with the identification of the cause of domestic violence.
Section 5 of Bill C-27 amends Criminal Code section 268, making infibulation an offence of aggravated assault. Under Bill C-27 infibulation in whole or in part to the labia majora and labia minora or clitoris of a young person under the age of 18 years will be considered aggravated assault punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 14 years.
Female genital mutilation is abominable and therefore should be outlawed for all Canadians, not just those under the age of 18 years. This barbaric and inhumane practice should be illegal regardless of age to protect all women in the country.
In view of the concern expressed in 1992 by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons this Criminal Code amendment is necessary. The Ontario college reports that there has been a rise in the number of requests of infibulations. Infibulation is the cutting off of a young girl's genital parts including the clitoris and the subsequent sewing together of the opening, leaving room for only urination and menstruation.
Canada has been cited by the World Health Organization as being one of the 40 countries involved in the practice of what has become known as female circumcision, correctly referred to as female genital mutilation.
Female genital mutilation causes a number of short and long term problems including excruciating pain; hemorrhaging; occasional death; exceptionally high rates of infections to the urinary tract, bladder, reproductive organs and bowel; menstrual and pregnancy problems; anemia and disfiguring cysts which not only reduce or eliminate sexual pleasure but often result in extreme pain during intercourse and can even prohibit it.
Suffice to say, the Canadian medical community says female genital mutilation has absolutely no benefits but is completely unnecessary and extremely harmful.
Recently a documentary aired on television on the subject of female genital mutilation. It was absolutely horrifying to witness the barbaric act of inflicting unconscionable pain on a terrified child. It is a memory that will not be soon forgotten. In the film a 4-year old girl sat on what appeared to be stool upon a dirt floor while an elderly woman from the community using a crude instrument cut off her clitoris. No anesthetic was used. No freezing was used. As the girl screamed in horror and pain, the woman proceeded without any sign of anguish on her part or on the part of the mother who not only witnessed the barbaric mutilation of her daughter but was part of it. The mother, showing no sign of emotion, restrained her daughter. When the procedure was complete the girl laid on a dirty mat sobbing with her feet tied together and with her hands bound.
I relay this horrible story to the House today-