US drops appeal dismissing female genital mutilation charges; no charges for Detroit-area doctor

Posted at 1:11 PM, Apr 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-12 18:22:57-04

DETROIT — The U.S. Justice Department won't appeal a decision by a Detroit federal judge who threw out female genital mutilation charges against members of a Muslim sect.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco calls it an "especially heinous practice." But in a letter to Congress, he says the law needs to be changed to be constitutional under U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

Judge Bernard Friedman in November said the law was unconstitutional because Congress didn't have power to regulate genital mutilation. The government pulled its appeal on March 30.

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was accused of performing genital mutilation on nine girls at a suburban Detroit clinic. She denies any crime and says she performed a religious custom. The girls were from Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

There still are other charges in the case

We spoke to Dr. Nagarwala’s attorney about the decision and why her client is still facing legal issues.

“We were really happy to see that the Justice Department reached the same conclusion we did,” says attorney Shannon Smith, who represents Dr. Jumana Nargawala in this historic case.

“Congress and the Senate have to decide if they are going to defend the statute and if they choose not to there will no longer be an appeal,” she says/

We also spoke to an anti-FGM organization who says there is still more work to be done.

“We are very disappointed,” says Liz Yore with the organization EndFGMToday. “That causes lifetime of harm, physical harm and emotional trauma. We have to start from square one again with Congress to formulate a federal criminal statute.”

Judge: Law that outlawed female genital mutilation unconstitutional, charges dropped against doctor