Last year, the first federal case involving female genital mutilation (FGM) was filed in the United States against two Michigan doctors. Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and emergency room physician, Jumana Nagarwala were charged with performing the procedure on two 7-year-old girls.
However, U.S. district judge Bernard Friedman ruled on Tuesday that an anti-FGM law was unconstitutional and that Congress had no authority to enact a law that criminalizes the practice.
Furthermore, Friedman dismissed the charges of female genital mutilation against Nagarwala and Attar. The charges against three mothers implicit in the FGM procedures were dropped and Tahera Shafiq, who was accused of participating in the procedures, also had the charges against her dropped.
Nagarwala and Attar, however, still face conspiracy charges and an obstruction count that could send them to prison for upwards of 20 years.
The wife of Fakhruddin Attar, Farida Attar, is accused in indictments of giving one of the girls who underwent the procedure Valium that was ground up in liquid Tylenol.
Farida Attar’s trial is set for April of 2019.
Although defense lawyers claim the procedures performed on the girls was “benign” and not FGM – and have accused the government of overreaching – one must wonder where the line between a procedure being or not being female genital mutilation is drawn.
Since 1996, the procedure has been illegal in the U.S. and the World Health Organization has specified there are no medical benefits for girls and women to undergo the procedure.
In his 28-page opinion, Friedman detailed that Congress didn’t have the authority to pass the 22-year-old federal law that criminalizes FGM – and claims it’s up to the states to regulate.
Nagarwala has been steadfast in her claim that she’s committed no crime and that she was charged under a faulty law:
The law was never debated on the floor of either chamber of Congress nor was there ever any legislative hearing addressing the justification or need for the federal law. Instead, all that exists is the criminal statute itself…But the Constitution demands more than that… Claiming Congress could not have passed a female genital mutilation ban under the Commerce clause because… the activity being regulated has absolutely no effect on interstate commerce.
Friedman agreed with and backed up the point:
There is nothing commercial or economic about FGM. As despicable as this practice may be, it is essentially a criminal assault. FGM is not part of a larger market and it has no demonstrated effect on interstate commerce. The commerce clause does not permit Congress to regulate a crime of this nature.
The true question regarding Friedman’s ruling is if he is such a supporter of “states’ rights”, would he rule in a similar vein if it were case concerning a conservative issue?
Notably, FGM has been condemned worldwide and is illegal in more than 30 countries.
If Friedman had a history of standing up for states’ rights and limiting the power of the federal government, the ruling could be considered halfway brave – but it’s just yet another instance of political correctness, using subversion and conservative culture against traditionalism.
For now, a barbaric and vicious practice has been allowed to skate by in the U.S. from a mere loophole – with the pain and suffering of prepubescent girls simply ignored and written off. How very convenient that Friedman gave such a lenient ruling to a case involving what is essentially female circumcision – when male circumcision is now basically a religious ritual, akin to the sheer lunacy of FGM.
Another convenient aspect of this situation?
In 2014, Friedman overruled Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. So much for states’ rights!