Female genital mutilation: Michigan charges believed to be unprecedented

Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia (WDIV ClickOnDetroit).
Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia (WDIV ClickOnDetroit).

DETROIT – Female genital mutilation charges against three people in Michigan are believed to be unprecedented, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. 

Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, and his wife, Farida Attar, 50, are accused of allowing Dr. Jumana Nagarwala to perform female genital mutilation (FGM) procedures on girls between 6 and 8 years old at the couple's medical clinic in Livonia, Mich. Furthermore, Farida Attar is accused of helping Nagarwala with the procedures.

Nagarwala, Fakhruddin Attar and Farida Attar are believed to be the first people charged under 18 U.S.C. 116, which criminalizes FGM.

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.”

Nagarwala, 44, was arrested April 12 and ordered 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.

"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."

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

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