Disappointment at the U.S. Department of Justice decision not to appeal ruling in the first federal genital mutilation case

New York, NY, April 11, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- It is both deeply disappointing and disturbing to hear that Attorney General Barr has decided not to appeal the Michigan case against Jumana Nagarwala, a U.S. doctor who was charged in 2017 with performing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on nine girls, aged 7 to 13, from Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota, at a Detroit clinic. Prosecutors alleged that Dr.Nagarwala may have subjected up to 100 girls to the procedure over a 12 year period.

This was the first case to be brought under a federal anti-FGM law introduced by Congress in 1996. In November 2018, a federal judge in Detroit dismissed six of the eight charges on the grounds that the law was unconstitutional because Congress did not have the right to criminalize the practice.

In making its decision, the DOJ incorrectly relies on U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman’s ruling in the Eastern District of Michigan that Congress lacked authority, under the commerce clause, and the treaty clause, of the US constitution, to adopt the law and that the power to outlaw FGM resided with individual states.

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