The Iowa House passed legislation criminalizing female genital mutilation.

The topic, Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, told representatives, “frankly, is not pleasant.”

Female genital mutilation — the cutting of a female’s clitoris as practiced in Africa and parts of the Middle East and Asia as well as in the United States — is, in essence, “a sexual assault on a young girl’s private parts that scars her for life both literally and figuratively,” Hinson said.

Senate File 346 would make it a Class D felony to carry out the process on a minor on cases when it is not medically necessary. It also makes it a crime to transport a minor to or from Iowa to have the procedure done. The original bill passed the Senate unanimously. Legislation now must be approved by the Senate before going to the governor because the House amended the Senate-passed version of the bill.

Iowa is one of 22 states without a law that addresses female genital mutilation.

Before being approved 95-4, SF 346 was amended to direct the Crime Victims Assistance Division of the Attorney General’s Office, working with community insiders and culturally specific victims’ services programs, to develop an education campaign to increase awareness regarding the health risks of female genital mutilation and the criminal penalty.

•How they voted: Yes: Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt; Andy McKean, R-Anamosa. No: Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton.