Two more Muslim women in Michigan are facing charges that they subjected their daughters to genital mutilation, which is customary among some Muslims. The two mothers were indicted on June 21 in a US District Court in Detroit before Judge Bernard Friedman. They are accused of participating in an ever-widening conspiracy in which their respective daughters’ genitalia were allegedly mutilated by a female Muslim physician.
Oakland County residents Farida Arif and Fatema Dahodwala were indicted on charges of genital mutilation conspiracy and female genital mutilation. Dahodwala also was accused of lying to investigators. They were ordered to wear GPS tethers but were released on $10,000 unsecured bonds. Neither of the women are American citizens. As a precaution, they were ordered to surrender their passports, which were issued by India. In addition, the two women were ordered to refrain from any contact with witnesses, co-defendants, or alleged victims, except for their respective daughters.
The alleged victims include two previously disclosed girls aged seven from Minnesota, and four Michigan girls ages 8-12. Prosecutors believe that as many as 100 victims. The conspiracy is believed to have started in 2005 among six people participating. They included Dr. Jumana Nagarwala of Northville. She alleged to have mutilated the girls’ genitalia at the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia, a suburb of Detroit.
Owned by Dr. Fakhruddin Attar of Farmington Hills, it was operated by his wife, Dr. Farida Attar. Nagarwala and the Attars were already charged in the case alongside Tahera Shafiq, a resident of Farmington Hills MI.
Attorneys defending Arif and Dahodwala claim that the girls were merely subjected to a benign religious procedure. Federal procutors disagreed with the defense. For example, Assitant US Attorney Sara Woodward said during a previous court hearing, “Their pants and underwear were removed ... and Dr. Nagarwala approached with a sharp tool to cut their genitals.”
Arif and Dahodwala belong to a Muslim sect known as Dawoodi Bohra. Critics have described genital mutilation as a practice that is intended to reduce sexual pleasure, minimize female sexuality, and curb promiscuity, according to court records. According to the World Health Organization, female genital mutilation (FGM) has not has no health benefits for girls and women.
The indictment describes a key date in the alleged conspiracy in May 2015.
On May 30 of that year, prosecutors say Farida Attar arrived at the Burhani Medical Clinic so that Dr. Nagarwala could mutilate the genitals of a girl aged approximately seven years. Arif brought the girl, say prosecutors. Dr. Nagarwala allegedly mutilated another girl from Michigan approximately one year later; that girl was approximately seven years old, according to the indictment. Prosecutors contend that the incident took place between June and September 2016 and that Dahodwala caused the girl to undergo the procedure.
One of the victims told FBI investigators that Dr. Nagarwala “pinched” her on the “place (where) she goes pee.’ ” A court filing indicated that subsequent medical examinations showed the girl’s genitals did not appear normal and a section had been altered or removed. Small healing lacerations and scar tissue were also noticed.
The court document defines female genital mutilation as follows:
"a. Type 1: Often referred to as clitoridectomy, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals), and in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of the skin surrounding the clitoris);
b. Type 2: Often referred to as excision, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without the excision of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva);
c. Type 3: Often referred to as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy); and
d; Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area."