By Staff

HOUSTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Thirty-nine year-old Zahra Badri was charged with knowingly transporting a child from the United States in foreign commerce for the purpose of female gender mutilation from about July 10, 2016 through Oct. 14, 2016.

Badri is originally from the United Kingdom but was living in Houston.

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“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 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.”

The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations and Badri is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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“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.”

Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 460 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 1,064 known or suspected human rights violators from the U.S. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 172 such individuals from the U.S.

Currently, ICE has more than 155 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,675 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 77,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 333 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

“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.”

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