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Judge rules federal law against female genital mutilation 'unconstitutional', dismisses some charges

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A U.S. District court judge in Detroit has ruled a federal law against female genital mutilation is “unconstitutional.”

The ruling came in a case against two doctors and several members of the Dawoodi Bohra community.    The practice offemale genital mutilation is considered a religious rite among members of the Muslim sect from India.

Judge Bernard Friedman dismissed six of eight counts against two doctors and several mothers accused of having the medical procedure performed on nine girls in a southeast Michigan clinic.

The federal law against female genital mutilation has been on the books for two decades, but the Detroit case is the first time charges had been filed.

In his 28-page decision, Judge Friedman writes, “Congress had no authority to pass this statute under either the Necessary and Proper Clause or the Commerce Clause” of the Constitution. Female genital mutilation is against the law in Michigan and 26 other states.  

It’s not known yet if federal prosecutors plan to appeal the judge’s ruling. 

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and one other individual are still facing conspiracy and obstruction charges.   Their trial is scheduled for next year.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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