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Feds indict 3 people in Metro Detroit female genital mutilation case

2 doctors, woman now face trial

DETROIT – Three people accused of performing and aiding with female genital mutilation procedures on young girls in Metro Detroit have been indicted by a federal grand jury. 

Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, his wife Farida Attar, and Dr. Jumana Nagarwala now are tied together in the case. The Attars are accused of conspiring with Nagarwala, who is charged with performing genital mutilation on 7-year-old Minnesota girls at the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia, which is owned by Dr. Attar.

"Female Genital Mutilation has serious implications for the health and well-being of girls and women," said Acting United States Attorney Daniel Lemisch. "This brutal practice is conducted on girls for one reason, to control them as women. FGM will not be tolerated in the United States. The federal government is continuing this investigation to ensure those responsible are brought to justice."

The government says Dr. Attar allowed Dr. Nagarwala to see young girls at his clinic after hours. Farida Attar is accused of helping Nagarwala with the procedures.

"As the first federal indictment in the U.S., these charges will hopefully deal a critical blow to stamping out this inhumane practice in the United States and around the world," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis. "HSI and our partners are committed to the difficult but necessary work of supporting victims and bringing everyone involved in this practice to justice."

After a federal court hearing Wednesday in Detroit, all three face a federal grand jury indictment and will head to trial. If convicted, the doctors could face life in prison. 

Nagarwala, 44, was arrested April 12 and detained April 17 as her trial is pending. The Attars were arrested Friday morning as part of a federal raid at the clinic. View the criminal complaint here.

Nagarwala has a pretrial hearing this week.

"According to the complaint, despite her oath to care for her patients, Dr. Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims," acting assistant Attorney General Blanco said. "The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse."

The federal complaint said Fakhruddin Attar made a series of phone calls to a member of the community in Minnesota in October 2016. From Oct. 22, 2016, through Jan. 20, officials said Fakhruddin Attar made more than 50 phone calls to the Minnesota number.

Officials believe that the phone calls were connected to two 7-year-old Minnesota girls who were taken to Nagarwala to undergo the procedure.

READWhat is female genital mutilation?

Genital mutilation, also known as cutting, has been condemned by the United Nations and outlawed in the U.S. Nagarwala and the Attars belong to a Muslim sect known as Dawoodi Bohra.

READ: Female genital mutilation: What is it, cultural and social factors

Unprecedented charges

This case is unprecedented in the U.S. According to the United States code, "whoever knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates 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 shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both."

Here are the Congressional Findings

“(1) the practice of female genital mutilation is carried out by members of certain cultural and religious groups within the United States;
“(2) the practice of female genital mutilation often results in the occurrence of physical and psychological health effects that harm the women involved;
“(3) such mutilation infringes upon the guarantees of rights secured by Federal and State law, both statutory and constitutional;
“(4) the unique circumstances surrounding the practice of female genital mutilation place it beyond the ability of any single State or local jurisdiction to control;
“(5) the practice of female genital mutilation can be prohibited without abridging the exercise of any rights guaranteed under the first amendment to the Constitution or under any other law; and
“(6) Congress has the affirmative power under section 8 of article I, the necessary and proper clause, section 5 of the fourteenth Amendment, as well as under the treaty clause, to the Constitution to enact such legislation.”

MORE: Female genital mutilation a serious problem in United States