In the News: Federal FGM Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Federal Ban on Female Genital Mutilation Ruled Unconstitutional by Judge, Pam Belluck, New York Times, 2018-11-21.

The case, the first to be brought under the 1996 law that criminalized female genital mutilation, has been closely followed by human rights advocates and communities where cutting is still practiced and whose members have moved in growing numbers to the United States and other western countries.

On Tuesday, Judge Bernard Friedman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that Congress did not have the authority to pass the law against female genital mutilation and he dismissed key charges filed against the doctors and removed four of the eight defendants from the case.

“As laudable as the prohibition of a particular type of abuse of girls may be,” he wrote, prosecutors failed to show that the federal government had the authority to bring the charges, and he noted that regulating practices like this is essentially a state responsibility.

Genital mutilation is a barbaric practice. If the federal law banning FGM is indeed unconstitutional, then that simply underlines the urgency of adopting similar legislation at the state level in all of the United States.

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