The federal government has amped up its female genital mutilation prosecution, charging two Oakland County mothers with subjecting their daughters to the banned religious cutting ritual that has now been linked to four Michigan girls.
That brings the total number of identified victims to six -- two from Minnesota, four from Michigan. And the number of defendants charged in the historic case is now up to six, including two doctors, a physician's wife, two mothers and a sixth woman -- all of them accused of participating in various degrees of subjecting young girls to genital cutting as part of a religious practice over the last 12 years.
The latest defendants to be indicted in the case are Fatema Dahodwala and Farida Arif --- both of them mothers from Oakland County and members of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim sect -- who are charged with subjecting their minor daughters to the procedure. A third woman, Tahera Shafiq of Wayne County, has also been indicted in the case for allegedly being present during some of the alleged cutting procedures.
The new defendants were added to the original indictment that was handed up in April charging Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, a now-fired emergency room physician with Henry Ford, with performing the procedure on two Minnesota girls at a Livonia clinic in February. The clinic owner and his wife, Dr. Fakuruddin Attar and Farida Attar, have also been charged.
All six defendants are members of the Dawoodi Bohra – a small Indian Muslim sect with a mosque in Farmington Hills that practices female circumcision and believes it is a religious rite of passage.
According to the superseding -- or new indictment -- unsealed today, four Michigan girls have now been identified as victims of this practice, which is illegal in the U.S. and has been condemned worldwide.
Among those victims are an Oakland County girl who was subjected to a genital cutting procedure on May 30, 2015, at the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia. Prosecutors allege her mother, Arif, brought her to the clinic, where Nagarwala allegedly performed a genital cutting procedure on the girl. The clinic owner’s wife, Farida Attar, also was there.
The other indicted mother, Dahodwala, is accused of bringing her daughter to the same clinic for the same procedure last year, sometime between June and Sept. 20 2016. According to the indictment, Nagarwala performed that procedure as well and the victim's mother lied to law enforcement when questioned about whether female genital mutilation procedures took place.
While the U.S. Attorneys office has identified six victims in the government’s ongoing female genital mutilation probe, it has claimed that as many as 100 Bohra girls may have been subjected to genital cutting over the last 12 years.
The defendants have denied any wrongdoing and maintain they were not involved in any cutting, but rather subjected the girls to only scraping procedures that they believe are a religious rite of passage.