A historic ruling that declared unconstitutional a US law banning female genital mutilation (FGM), and dropped key charges against practitioners was an “outrageous” blow to the rights of tens of thousands of girls at risk of the abuse, according to campaigners.
US district judge Bernard Friedman, in Michigan, ruled on Tuesday that Congress lacked authority, under the commerce clause of the US constitution, to adopt the 1996 law and that the power to outlaw FGM lay with individual states. “As despicable as this practice may be, it is essentially a criminal assault,” Friedman wrote, in a ruling late on Tuesday. Congress had “overstepped its bounds by legislating to prohibit FGM”, as it had no demonstrated effect on interstate commerce, he said.
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