(STL.News) A Texas woman has been indicted for transporting a minor from the United States to a foreign country for the purpose of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Zahra Badri, 39, of Houston, who is originally from the United Kingdom, is charged in an indictment with knowingly transporting a minor from the United States in foreign commerce for the purpose of FGM from about July 10, 2016 through Oct. 14, 2016.
“The brutal practice of female genital mutilation not only subjects victims to the immediate trauma of the violent act, but also often condemns them to suffer a lifetime of physical and psychological harms,” said David P. Burns, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This indictment represents the first time the Department has brought charges against a defendant for transporting a child outside U.S. borders to facilitate this abhorrent form of gender-based violence and demonstrates that we will not rest in pursuing and holding to account those who engage in this cruelty.”
Title 18, United States Code, Section 116(d), defines FGM as circumcision, excision, or infibulation of “the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years.” Since 1996, the United States has prohibited the practice of female genital mutilation. In 2013, Congress amended the statute to add section 116(d), which prohibits the transportation of a person from the United States to another country for purposes of having female genital mutilation performed upon them. This is the first such indictment under section 116(d).
“Female genital mutilation is child abuse,” said Ryan K. Patrick, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. “The long-term damage, both physically and physiologically, is well documented. Unnecessary medical procedures on children will not be tolerated.”
“It is rare this type of crime is brought to the attention of law enforcement,” said Perrye K. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Houston Field Office. “We want the American people to know it is the FBI’s responsibility to investigate allegations of Human Rights violations, like female genital mutilation. This is an example of our commitment to protect Human Rights.”
“Female genital mutilation is a human rights violation,” said Andre Watson, Assistant Director of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), National Security Investigations Division, which oversees the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center. “This indictment reflects the gravity of FGM and the on-going commitment of the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center to investigate this heinous crime.”
This case is being investigated by FBI’s Houston Field Office, with the support of the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009, the HRVWCC furthers the government’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the government’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders. The HRVWCC is comprised of ICE HSI Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, ICE’s Human Rights Law Division, FBI’s International Human Rights Unit and the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP).
The case is being prosecuted by HRSP Trial Attorneys Rami S. Badawy, Susan Masling, and Christian Levesque and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Leo and Sherri Zack of the Southern District of Texas.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.