In a historic ruling that strikes a chilling blow to women’s rights, a federal judge in Michigan declared unconstitutional the U.S. law against female genital mutilations (FGM), and dropped charges against two doctors for carrying out the procedure on underage girls.
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said Tuesday that Congress lacks the authority to outlaw the procedure, and insisted only states can make such a decision, the Detroit Free Press reports.
“As despicable as [FGM] may be,” Friedman said, Congress “overstepped its bounds” by banning the practice.
The trial was the first federal case to involve FGM, which is common religious practice in some cultures, but is internationally recognized as a human rights violation. The defendants, including three mothers, are all members of the Indian Muslim Dawoodi Bohra community.