U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the indictment of a woman accused of knowingly transporting a minor to another country for purposes of female genital mutilation. The charge is the result of an FBI investigation that received support from ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.
Zhara Badri, 39, of Houston, Texas, but originally from the United Kingdom, was indicted for knowingly transporting a minor from the United States in foreign commerce for the purpose of female genital mutilation between July 10, 2016 and Oct. 14, 2016, according to ICE.
Female genital mutilation has been outlawed in the United States since 1996 and is defined under Title 18, Unites States Code, Section 116(d) as circumcision, excision, or infibulation of "the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years." The statute was amended in 2013 to prohibit the transportation of a person from the United States to a foreign country for the purposes of having a person's genitals mutilated. According to ICE, this is the first indictment under the amended statute.
"It is rare this type of crime is brought to the attention of law enforcement," said Perrye K. Turner, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Houston Field Office. "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."
"Female genital mutilation is child abuse," said Ryan K. Patrick, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas. "The long-term damage, both physically and physiologically, is well documented. Unnecessary medical procedures on children will not be tolerated."
ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center is responsible for helping the government identify, locate and prosecute individuals for human rights abuses, including individuals suspected of persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.
In December, an ICE operation dubbed "No Safe Haven" led to the arrest of 21 criminal aliens across the United States. Among those arrested were 18 foreign nationals sought in connection with suspected human rights violations or human smuggling and trafficking.
In June, ICE agents arrested a man accused of torturing individuals in the Republic of The Gambia, a small country in West Africa.
ICE has arrested more than 460 individuals since 2003 for human rights-related violations. The agency currently has more than 155 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and more than 1,675 leads and removals cases involving individuals from 96 different countries suspected of committing human rights violations.