Houston woman indicted on federal charge in female genital mutilation case, authorities say

HOUSTON – A Houston woman is the subject of a federal grand jury indictment, the first-ever indictment regarding female genital mutilation, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Zahra Badri, 39, of Houston, originally from the United Kingdom, is set to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future, according to a news release from federal authorities.

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.

Female genital mutilation refers to the circumcision, excision or infibulation of a minor’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris.

“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 FBI’s Houston Field Office said in a news release that it conducted the investigation with the support of the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.

“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.”

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.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.