Sep 19, 2019
| Detroit Free Press – Activists fighting to end female genital mutilation worldwide are reeling at the latest decision involving Detroit’s FGM case, in which a doctor is charged with cutting the genitals of nine 7-year-old girls who cried and bled as another woman held them down.
The historic case has had a series of setbacks.
First, a federal judge in Detroit declared the nation’s FGM law unconstitutional.
Then, the Department of Justice said it wouldn’t appeal, concluding the 1996 FGM statute was too weak to defend.
Congress tried to intervene and fight for the law, but got shot down.
On Friday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion by congressional leaders to defend the constitutionality of the FGM ban. It also granted the government’s and the defendant’s request to voluntarily dismiss the case.
Shannon Smith, attorney for the lead defendant in the case, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, said the appeals court got it right.
“We were not surprised by the decision. A quick look at the law makes it abundantly clear that Congress was way out of its lane in its efforts to intervene and take over a criminal prosecution,” said Smith, adding she will now focus on fighting the remaining charges in the case, including conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
The 6th Circuit decision, however, devastated anti-FGM activists, who fear people who support genital cutting practices on religious grounds will still get away with it in the U.S.
The defendants in the Michigan case are all members of a small Indian Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, who practice female circumcision [female genital mutilation is not ‘circumcision.’ –Ed.] and view it as a religious rite of passage, alleging it involves only a minor “nick.” [female genital mutilation is not ‘minor.’ –Ed.]
“We are deeply concerned that this decision puts girls at risk as the lack of a federal ban leaves an interstate loophole and creates confusion among law enforcement … ” Read more.