Berne (eca) - The Swiss parliament on Thursday voted to make the practice of female genital mutilation a punishable offence.
Lawmakers in the national assembly voted 162 for and two against a plan to changing Switzerland's penal code in this regard.
With the anticipated approval by the Cantons, all forms of genital mutilation involving females would be outlawed. This would also apply in cases where Swiss residents carry out the practice abroad. Penalties would range between a heavy fine and 10 years in prison.
Genital mutilation involves the partial or complete removal of the external sexual organs, without medical reasons.
Circumcised girls and women are exposed to great suffering and health risks, parliamentarians said. It is estimated that around 7,000 girls and young women in the Switzerland are at risk.