Indian American Dr. Jumana Nagarwala’s charges on mutilation and conspiracy have been dropped by a federal judge in Chicago after ruling that the U.S. law against female genital mutilation is unconstitutional.
According to a New York Post report, District Judge Bernard Friedman stated that “Congress overstepped its bounds by outlawing the practice known as female circumcision, or cutting and that it was up to states rather than Congress to regulate the practice.”
He has also dropped the charges of Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, who let Nagarwala use his suburban Detroit clinic; Attar’s wife, who assisted in the procedure; and five others, including three mothers who took their daughters to the clinic.
According to an earlier News India Times report, Nagarwala was arrested in April 2017 on mutilation and conspiracy charges for performing female genital mutilation on up to 100 girls, while was charged with the same, for letting Nagarwala use his clinic.
Though the charges have been dropped, the doctors will continue to face lengthy prison terms on conspiracy charges as they were charged in the genital mutilation of nine girls, according to a Time Magazine report.
The defendants are all members of a small Indian Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, who practice female circumcision, believing it is a religious rite of passage that involves only a minor “nick,” and have argued that “Congress lacked authority to enact the genital mutilation statute, thus the female genital mutilation charges must be dismissed,” the Detroit Free Press reported.
According to the Detroit Free Press, currently, 27 states have laws that criminalize female genital mutilation, including Michigan, whose FGM law is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, compared to the federal law of five years.
The state passed the law a few months after Nagarwala’s arrest, last year.
Female genital mutilation has been condemned by the United Nations, but is common for girls in some parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the New York Post reports.