Clinic Owners Arrested In Michigan Female Genital Mutilation Case

Another doctor was charged with female genital mutilation in the first federal prosecutions for FGM.

Dr. Fakhruddin Attar
Apr 24, 2017 at 1:14 PM ET

Nearly two weeks after a Michigan doctor was arrested and charged with mutilating the genitals of two young girls — the first such federal charges in America since the practice was outlawed two decades ago — the owners of the clinic she allegedly used for the acts have been arrested.

Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida, were arrested on Friday and charged with aiding and abetting female genital mutilation, as well as conspiracy to commit FGM. The Attars own the clinic in Livonia, Michigan, where Dr. Jumana Nagarwala is accused of cutting at least two seven-year-old girls in February.

Dr. Attar admitted that Nagarwala treated girls in his clinic for “problems with their genitals,” such as “rashes” about “5 to 6 times per year,” according to the complaint. The complaint said that the alleged treatments happened, almost exclusively, after office hours. His wife, he said, stayed with the girls during the procedures to “comfort” them. Dr. Attar told investigators that Nagarwala allegedly performed the service for free. Investigators believe several girls were mutilated, dating back to at least 2005.

Nagarwala and the Attars are believed to belong to a Muslim sect from India called Dawoodi Bohra. The Detroit Free Press reported that Dr. Attar and Nagarwala’s husband have served as treasurers for the Anjuman-e-Najmi mosque, which is Michigan’s only Dawoodi Bohra mosque. The mosque released a statement after the Attars’ arrest, saying it did not condone the practice and would assist the investigation.

“Any violation of U.S. law is counter to instructions to our community members,” leaders of the mosque said in a statement. “It does not reflect the everyday lives of the Dawoodi Bohras in America.”

Nagarwala’s lawyer said in court last week that her client was performing a religious ceremony, and there was no cutting involved. Nagarwala, who remains in jail, was ordered held without bond. The Attars will face a judge on Monday. Like Nagarwala, Dr. Attar was on staff at a local hospital, which, also like Nagarwala, has suspended his privileges.

Last week, the Attars’ lawyer said the doctor was “not aware of any crimes committed at his clinic.”

“This is frightening for them and terrifying,” attorney Mary Chartier told reporters.

One of the girls who told investigators that she was mutilated at the clinic described screaming in pain and barely being able to walk afterwards, which was also presumably frightening and terrifying.