On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan announced the arrest of a Detroit physician and his wife on charges of violating the federal ban on female genital mutilation. (Full text of criminal complaint.) Fakhruddin Attar and his wife Farida were charged with conspiring with Dr. Jumana Nagarwala who was arrested earlier this month in Detroit and ordered detained on pending trial. (Press release and criminal complaint in Nagarwala case.) As reported yesterday in a background article in the Detroit Free Press:
All three defendants belong to a small, Indian-Muslim community known as the Dawoodi Bohra, whose members say genital cutting is a deeply entrenched social and cultural norm, with some women viewing it as normal as having a period. Celebration parties are held after the cuttings, and the women and girls are supposed to keep it a secret. One of the key reasons for the procedure, victims say, is to curb a woman’s sexuality.
According to an earlier Detroit Free Press report:
Nagarwala has claimed through her lawyer that she did not engage in any actual cutting, but rather that she removed a membrane from the genital area using a “scraper” and gave it to the parents to bury in the ground as part of a religious custom within the Dawoodi Bohra community.
On Friday, Anjuman-e-Najmi Detroit, an umbrella organization for the Dawoodi Bohra community in Detroit, issued a statement reading in part:
The Dawoodi Bohras do not support the violation of any U.S. law, local, state or federal. We offer our assistance to the investigating authorities. Any violation of U.S. law is counter to instructions to our community members. It does not reflect the everyday lives of the Dawoodi Bohras in America.
Apparently these are the first defendants charged under 18 USC 116 prohibiting female genital mutilation.