DETROIT (WWJ) – A grand jury has indicted two doctors and a third person in an alleged scheme to perform genital mutilation on two young girls from Minnesota at a Detroit-area clinic.
The indictment filed Wednesday replaces criminal complaints that led to the arrest of the trio in recent weeks.READ MORE: The Detroit Zoo To Host Its Final Weekend Of Family-Friendly Halloween Event 'Zoo Boo' Oct. 22-24
Doctors Jumana Nagarwala and Fakhruddin Attar — along with Attar’s wife, Farida Attar — are charged with female genital mutilation as well as conspiracy to obstruct the federal investigation and to transport minors across state lines.
Nagarwala and Fakhruddin Attar are also charged with giving false statements to a federal agent.
[View a copy of the indictment. Note: Contains graphic language/details]
The alleged illegal acts were performed by Nagarwala on two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota, according to investigators, after hours and with permission from the Attars at their medical clinic in Livonia.
One alleged victim told an FBI agent she was bought by her parents to Detroit with another child for what she was told was a “special girls trip.” Once she arrived, she was taken to the clinic for the procedure, and was told not to tell anyone about it.
This is believed to be the first case brought under a federal law which criminalizes FGM — which typically involves the cutting of a girl’s genitals, often for cultural or religious reasons.READ MORE: Tillson Street's Halloween Displays Draws Thousands
“Female Genital Mutilation has serious implications for the health and well-being of girls and women,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch, in announcing the indictment Wednesday, along with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) and the FBI.
“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.”
ICE-HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis said he hopes the charges will “deal a critical blow to stamping out this inhumane practice in the United States and around the world.”
“HSI and our partners are committed to the difficult but necessary work of supporting victims and bringing everyone involved in this practice to justice,” he added, in a statement.
Nagarwala is a member of a community that believes in the practice; but, though her attorney, she has denied any wrongdoing. At the time the alleged crimes took place, she worked in Emergency Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
More than 100 million women and girls are believed to be living with the consequences of female genital mutilation, according to the World Health Organisation. WHO calls the practice, which is common in parts of Africa and the Middle East, “an international recognized violation of human rights of girls and women” that has no known health benefits.
Investigators are concerned there could be more victims in the Detroit area. The FBI’s Detroit Field Division has set up a tip line for anyone who has information pertaining to the illegal practice of FGM, involving these three defendants or otherwise, at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5984). Tips can also be submitted online at FBI.gov/FGM.Kalamazoo Tests For Lead Exposure Following High-Lead Level Reports In Other Michigan Cities