A woman in Texas was charged for allegedly transporting a minor girl from the United States to a foreign country for the purpose of female genital cutting in 2016, the US Department of Justice said on Thursday.
This was the first time that the federal agency indicted someone under a clause of the anti-female genital mutilation, or FGM, law that specifically deals with the transporting of minor girls outside the country to facilitate the banned practice. While FGM has been illegal in the United States since 1996, this clause was introduced in 2013, according to a release by the Department of Justice.
The accused, Zahra Badri, who is originally from the United Kingdom, was charged in an indictment with “knowingly transporting a minor from the United States in foreign commerce for the purpose of FGM”. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, which is investigating this case, said the 39-year-old woman allegedly transported the child sometime between July 10, 2016 and October 14, 2016.
The FBI said it was investigating the matter with the support of the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, a government agency that works to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the US, the justice department said.
“The brutal practice of female genital mutilation not only subjects victims to the immediate trauma of the violent act, but also often condemns them to suffer a lifetime of physical and psychological harms,” said David P Burns, the acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Burns added that Badri’s indictment represented the American justice department’s intent of “pursuing and holding to account those who engage in this cruelty”.
FBI agent Perrye K Turner, meanwhile, called this a “rare type of crime”. “We want the American people to know it is the FBI’s responsibility to investigate allegations of Human Rights violations, like female genital mutilation,” he added. “This is an example of our commitment to protect Human Rights.”
Title 18, United States Code, Section 116(d), defines FGM as circumcision, excision, or infibulation of “the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years”. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than half a million girls and women in the country have undergone or are at risk of female genital cutting, according to Reuters.
Notably, Badri has not been charged under the new federal anti-FGM/C law that was signed by US President Donald Trump on January 5, according to non-governmental organisation Sahiyo. Since the alleged crime took place in 2016, she has been charged under the older federal law against the crime.