2nd doctor, wife charged in female genital mutilation case

Fakhruddin Attar

Fakhruddin Attar

An India-born doctor and his wife were arrested and charged with helping another Indian-origin doctor perform genital mutilations on minor girls, a procedure criminalised in the United States. "The complaint alleges that the FGM procedure was performed on girls who were approximately six to eight years old", the Justice Department says.

Surat's Dawoodi Bohra community is shocked over the arrest of Dr Fakhruddin Attar, 53, and his wife Farida Attar, 50, in Detroit, US, on Friday morning.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents leave the office of Dr. Fakhruddin Attar at the Burhani Clinic in Livonia, Mich. Friday, April 21, 2017, after completing a search for documents. Law enforcement said she removed a portion of the external genitalia of two girls who were brought to MI by their parents earlier this year to have the procedure performed.

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. There were fears she was going to flee the country after she was charged.

Her parents told investigators they had taken the girl to see Nagarwala in MI for a "cleansing".

The World Health Organization said the practice of removing or injuring female genital organs has no known health benefits.

"Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls".

Federal investigators say all three conspired to mutilate the genitals of young girls - a horrific practice that can involve the partial or complete removal of the clitoris or narrowing the vaginal opening by stitching it up. The Attars were arrested on Friday. The Attars allegedly allowed the procedure to be carried in their Livonia medical clinic.

Prosecutors said she performed the procedure on at least three MI girls but Nagarwala has not been charged in connection with those cases amid an ongoing investigation.

"I would not be surprised if she did the procedure there", said Isufali Kundawala, a Bohra and retired anesthesiologist near Dallas. The case appears to be the first brought under a 1996 U.S. law prohibiting the procedure, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Bohras' spiritual leader, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, issued a statement past year saying that female genital mutilation, known as khatna within the community, should not be performed in countries where it is illegal, but he left open the possibility of practicing it in other countries.

Secondly, they say that the accused could use the defense that the FGM law violated their own rights to equal freedom of religion, because even non-medical, ritualistic circumcisions are still performed by Ultra-Orthodox Jewish mohels in the United States.

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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