More charges filed in Detroit in genital mutilation probe

More charges filed in Detroit in genital mutilation probe

A physician and his wife were arrested today for allegedly helping an Indian-origin doctor perform female genital mutilation (FGM) on two minors in the U.S. state of MI, believed to be the first such case in America, media reports said.

The government filed charges, including conspiracy, against the owner of a suburban Detroit clinic, where he allegedly circumcised 7-year-old girls from Minnesota in February.

Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida Attar, were arrested just one week after officials arrested another Michigan-based doctor, Jumama Nagarwala, for performing FGM. Farida Attar is accused of assisting Nagarwala.

Matt Newburg, a lawyer for Farida Attar, declined to comment.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Shannon Smith, a lawyer representing Nagarwala, said that the doctor removed the membrane from the girls' vaginal parts as part of a custom practiced by a small sect of Indian Muslims known as the Dawoodi Bohra.

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The Detroit News reported that members of the Dawoodi Bohra sect in the area where the defendants live and work belong to the Anjuman-e-Najmi mosque, the only Dawoodi Bohra mosque in MI. She told investigators earlier this month that she's aware the procedure is illegal in the United States.

According to the complaint, the case against Nagarwala and the Attars dates to at least February, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation had received information that the procedure was being performed at the clinic.

Female genital mutilation involves partial or total removal of a girl's clitoris, and - in some cases - the skin surrounding the clitoris and the inner folds of the vulva.

While female genital mutilation is a major felony in the United States, it still happens in multiple countries. If convicted, the three each face up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000 for performing and conspiring to perform female genital mutilation.

In a 2016 study of Bohram women, Taher found that almost 80 percent had undergone the procedure while 81 perecent said they did not want the practice to continue.

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The case is the nation's first criminal prosecution for genital cutting.

The Attars were arraigned Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court and will remain locked pending a detention hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday, when a judge will decide whether to grant them bond or keep them behind bars.

A Minnesota doctor examining a girl who said Nagarwala, 44, had operated on her found the girl's "genitals were not normal and observed scar tissue and healing lacerations".

Congress passed a law in 1996 making it illegal to perform genital mutilation or cutting in the USA on anyone under than 18.

Senior officials last week called the charges alleged in the case "disturbing" and "deplorable", and said USA law enforcement agencies "are committed to doing whatever is necessary to bring an end to this barbaric practice, and to ensure no additional children fall victim to this procedure".

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Chartier declined to speak in detail on the couple's religious beliefs but said to expect more will be revealed in court Wednesday.

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