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Michigan Doctors Charged in U.S. First Federal Female Genital Mutilation Case

Female Genital Mutilation
Dr. Fakhruddin Attar (l), Dr. Jumana Nagarwala. Image: WXYZ-TV / Screengrab

Two Michigan doctors and the wife of one have been charged with performing female genital procedures on a pair of seven-year-old girls.

Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, and his wife, Farida Attar, 50, were arrested Friday at their medical office in Livonia, Mich., outside Detroit and charged with three federal criminal counts including conspiracy, female genital mutilation and aiding and abetting, according to CNN.

In addition, Jumana Nagarwala, 44, an emergency room doctor, was taken into custody April 12 and is being held awaiting trial after a federal judge determined she was a flight risk.

Female genital mutilation is a painful surgical procedure designed to suppress female sexuality. Investigators believe the three belong to a “religious and cultural community” that performs the banned procedure on young girls. But the mosque the Attars belong to deny any advocacy of FGM. “Any violation of US law is counter to instructions to our community members,” a statement released by the sect Dawoodi Bohras said. “It is an important rule of the Dawoodi Bohras that we respect the laws of the land, wherever we live. This is precisely what we have done for several generations in America. We remind our members regularly of their obligations.”

According to a federal criminal complaint, the FBI received a tip that the procedure was being done at the Burhani Medical Clinic, which Attars owns, although they don’t say the source of that tip. Investigators watching the clinic saw the two girls arrive at the office.

Court documents say the girls, each from Minnesota, told investigators their mothers said they were going to Detroit for “a special girls’ trip.” Both girls say that their parents told them not to talk about the procedure afterward. When parents were questioned about what happened, one couple described it as a “cleansing.”

“Dr. Attar is not aware of any crimes that occurred at his clinic,” Attar’s lawyer, Mary Chartier, told CNN. “He has confidence that he will be vindicated through the justice system because he has done nothing to violate the law.”

No charges have been filed against the parents of the girls.

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