HOUSTON – A federal grand jury has returned the first-ever indictment regarding the specific allegation of circumcision, excision or infibulation of a minor’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris.
Zahra Badri, 39, a resident of Houston originally from the United Kingdom, is set to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future.
“Female genital mutilation is child abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. “The long term damage, both physically and physiologically, is well documented. Unnecessary medical procedures on children will not be tolerated.”
“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 Acting Assistant Attorney General David P. Burns 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.”
“It is rare this type of crime is brought to the attention of law enforcement,” said FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner. “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.”
The indictment alleges from on or about July 10 through Oct. 14, 2016, Badri knowingly transported a minor from the United States in foreign commerce for the purpose of female genital mutilation.
The FBI’s Houston Field Office conducted the investigation 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 Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, ICE’s Human Rights Law Section, FBI’s International Human Rights Unit and the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP).
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Leo and Sherri Zack of the Southern District of Texas and HRSP Trial Attorneys Rami S. Badawy, Susan Masling and Christian Levesque are jointly prosecuting the case.
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.