On November 20, 2018, the United States District Court in Michigan ruled that the federal law which criminalized Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) more than twenty years ago is “unconstitutional”, and cannot be used to prosecute the doctors and mothers of the very young girls who were brought to be genitally mutilated in Livonia, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. (See United States of America v. Jumana Nagarwala, et al, 2018 WL 6064968.)
There were eight defendants. A doctor in Michigan, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, herself a member of the Dawoodi Bohra sect of Indian Islam, was accused of mutilating the genitalia of nine girls from three states: Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota. Another doctor, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, is accused of having allowed Dr. Nagarwala to use his now-shuttered clinic in a Detroit suburb. Two other women, Farida Attar and Taheri Sharia, clinic employees, were also accused of having assisted Dr. Nagarwala. The mothers of the girls were also charged: Farida Atif, Fatima Dahodwala, Haseena Halfal, and Zainab Hariyanawala.
The World Health Organization has spelled out the extraordinary harm and suffering that FGM causes. This includes pain so severe that it can cause shock and trauma; serious infections; urinary problems for life; scarring that makes urination, menstruation, intercourse, and childbirth forms of torture; inability to ever experience sexual pleasure; a fistula which leads to being ostracized and which requires surgery which may not be available; obstetrical complications; and to lifelong psychological post-traumatic stress disorder.