Abandoning the girls

The Trump Justice Department has backed off from defending a federal law banning female genital mutilation.

Government lawyers said on Wednesday they would not appeal a decision by a Michigan federal judge who dismissed charges involving FGM as unconstitutional, ruling it was a state issue.

Congress in 1996 outlawed FGM, a ritual that involves partial or total removal of external genitalia, which the World Health Organization has called “a grave violation of the human rights of girls and women.”

The CDC says half a million girls in the US have had it or are at risk of having it.

The decision by the U.S. government “is sending a damaging message to law enforcement, the courts and to the courageous survivors who are breaking the silence around FGM,” said Shelby Quast, an office director for Equality Now, an international human rights organization, in a statement.

About half of the nation’s 50 states have laws outlawing the practice. Michigan law forbids the practice, but its law took effect after the case in question.

In the Michigan case, a federal judge late last year dismissed FGM charges against a doctor and others from the local Indian Dawoodi Bohra community involved in the mutilation of nine young girls in Detroit.

The judge said the feds hadn’t made the case that they had the authority to regulate FGM.

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