Texan Indicted For Taking Minor Out Of The Country For Female Genital Mutilation

A woman from Houston, Texas, was charged with transporting a minor out of the U.S. for female genital mutilation, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Zahra Badri, 39, is charged with knowingly taking a minor to a foreign country for female genital mutilation (FGM) from July through October 2016, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The case was the first time the DOJ has prosecuted someone for this crime.

“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,” Acting Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Criminal Division David Burns said in a statement.

“Female genital mutilation is child abuse,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan K. Patrick said in a statement. “The long-term damage, both physically and physiologically, is well documented. Unnecessary medical procedures on children will not be tolerated.”

The U.S. banned FGM in 1996, and Congress amended a statute to prohibit taking someone out of the country to have FGM performed, according to the DOJ. FGM is defined as excision, infibulation or circumcision 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,” by the United States Code.

“It is rare this type of crime is brought to the attention of law enforcement,” Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Houston Field Office Perrye K. Turner said in a statement. (RELATED: REPORT: Female Genital Mutilation On The Rise As People Worry About Being Branded Racist)

“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,” Turner added.

The incident is being investigated by the FBI’s Houston Field Office and the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center who focuses on prosecuting human rights violators in the U.S., according to the DOJ.

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