Dawoodi Bohra Muslims watch a procession to mark the birthday of their spiritual leader.

Second Doctor Charged With Breaking Federal Genital Mutilation Law Over Dawoodi Bohra Muslim Procedures

A second Michigan doctor, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, and his wife, Farida Attar, have been charged in association with a federal female genital mutilation law. The criminal complaint alleged that a doctor, who was arrested just days ago, performed a procedure that removed part of girls’ genitals while the Livonia medical clinic owner’s wife held the girls’ hands “in order to comfort them.” The Attars, of Livonia, Michigan, were arrested Friday morning and charged with conspiring to perform female genital mutilation on minors.

Dr. Fakhruddin Attar allegedly allowed Dr. Jumana Nagarwala to use his clinic in order to perform a procedure that illegal to perform on girls in accordance with federal laws. According to the document unsealed today, Attar is the owner of the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia, Michigan where Dr. Nagarwala allegedly performed a procedure that removed a portion of the victims’ labia minora using a scraper. Reportedly, after being used during the procedure, the instruments were given to the girls’ parents to bury in the ground. The burial of the instrument is customary and part of a religious ceremony within Nagarwala’s Indian-Muslim community. Nargarwala claims that she did not actually cut any genitals, but merely scraped part of the membrane, a Detroit Free Press writer reported.

Nagarwala has been placed on administrative leave from her position as an emergency room doctor by Henry Ford Health Systems, though she did not perform any of these alleged genital mutilation procedures at any Henry Ford Health Systems’ facility.

“The alleged criminal activity did not occur at any Henry Ford facility,” David Olejarz, a spokesman for the Henry Ford Health System, said in an email to the New York Times, as Inquisitr previously reported. “We would never support or condone anything related to this practice.”

The complaint documents that investigators utilized cell phone records, medical evidence, and surveillance video in order to bring up charges against Nagarwala, Attar, and Attar’s wife. The complaint alleges that when two girls from Minnesota were brought to the Livonia clinic on February 3, the date Nagarwala is accused of mutilating the girls’ genitals, Attar and his wife were also there, according to video evidence.

Reportedly, investigators also intercepted phone calls in which Attar’s wife tells community members to avoid cooperating with investigators if they were ever approached. Allegedly, Attar’s wife told community members to “completely deny” that the procedures took place if asked by the authorities. The families were, according to The Detroit Free Press, members of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. The Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community of Shia Islam is based out of Mumbai, India, according to Mariya Taher.

“Within the Muslim community, there are two main branches: Sunni Islam and Shia Islam… These branches are further sub-divided into multiple sects. The Dawoodi Bohras are a member of the Shia branch.”

Just as not all members within the Jewish community practice circumcision rituals, not all members of the Dawoodi Bohras support the genital mutilation of females, according to numerous reports.

On social media, some genital autonomy advocates say that the case could bring up two equal rights issues, given that male circumcision is legal.

For starters, genital autonomy advocates point out that there are four types of female genital mutilation procedures. All four are illegal in the United States. NHS reports that female genital mutilation is known by people who practice it as “female circumcision.” They say that the procedures described in the complaint removed less tissue from the female victims than the infant circumcision procedure routinely performed on boys removes.

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. In that ritual, known as metzitzah b’peh, the mohel orally removes the blood off the end of the infant boy’s genitals after removing the infant’s foreskin and then spits the blood aside. The practice is fully legal, despite some boys having contracted herpes from the ritual.

Though the practice of female genital mutilation has been illegal for decades, this is believed to be the first time charges have been brought up against anyone in the United States, despite more than 500,000 girls being at risk or having already been victims of female genital mutilation procedures of some type.

[Featured Image by Ajit Solanki/AP Images]

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