Two more people have been criminally charged with conspiring to commit female genital mutilation (FGM), allegedly working with the female physician who was believed to be the first charged with the crime in the US.
Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife Farida were arrested Friday morning in Livonia, Michigan, and charged with conspiracy to commit and aiding and abetting FGM, according to a statement from the Department of Justice. They are scheduled to appear in federal court in Detroit Friday afternoon.
The complaint alleges that the Attars allowed Jumana Nagarwala — a physician who was charged with performing FGMs on April 13 — to carry out the procedures from the Burhani Medical Clinic and that Farida was present at the time of the procedures to comfort the girls and hold their hands.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), FGM is recognized internationally as a human rights violation, and affects approximately 200 million girls and women from certain Christian and Muslim communities around the world.
Some of the victims in the case were minors as young as six and eight years old, who had traveled from other states for the operation, according to the complaint.
On February 3, 2017, two 7 year old girls were taken to the clinic for the procedure. They had traveled with two adult women from Minnesota and met with Nagarwala and Farida at Burhani Medical Clinic where the procedure was performed on both children.
The children told investigators that they were taken to Michigan for a “special girls trip” but were taken to the doctor because their “tummies hurt” and had to undergo a procedure to “get the germs out.” When she was asked to show who performed the operation, she pointed to an unmarked photo of Nagarwala.
The girl said that during the procedure, she was made to lay on her back with her legs spread apart. Nagarwala then “pinched” her on the area of her body where she “goes pee,” and that she was given a pad to wear in her underwear afterwards, according to the complaint.
When Fakhruddin was interviewed by investigators, he confirmed that he knew Nagarwala, and that she occasionally saw patients at his clinic, but only when it was closed on Friday evenings or Saturdays.
He confirmed that Nagarwala treated patients for “problems with their genitals, including treatment of genital rashes,” according to the complaint, and that Farida would often accompany her during procedures to comfort the patients.