Two more defendants charged in female genital mutilation case

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Building on a case in which two girls were victims of genital mutilation, USA federal agents have arrested a doctor and his wife on allegations of helping to arrange the procedures.

Attar, who owned the Burhani Medical Center in Livonia, Michigan, lent his medical office to Nagarwala to perform the procedure on girls, aged 6 to 9, while Farida Attar held their hands "to comfort them", the complaint alleges. Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, and his wife, Faida Attar, 50, of Livonia, were arrested Friday morning, the Justice Department said.

According to the complaint, multiple MI girls have come forward to say Dr. Nargawala mutilated them in Dr. Attar's clinic years ago. Farida Attar is accused of assisting Nagarwala.

Her lawyer Shannon Smith said Dr Nagarwala told her that the procedure was part of a religious practice that is tied to a Muslim group Dawoodi Bohra that the doctor belongs to. Law enforcement said she removed a portion of the external genitalia of two girls who were brought to MI by their parents earlier this year to have the procedure performed.

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Phone records and surveillance tapes linked the families of the girls to Nagarwala as well as both Fakhruddin and Farida Attar.

The World Health Organization says the procedure involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies.

It's created to suppress female sexuality and reduce sexual pleasure and promiscuity. FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of women and girls.

In a complaint unsealed on Friday (Saturday NZT) charging the couple in the conspiracy, prosecutors offered new details about how they say the procedures were arranged and carried out.

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Attar told federal agents that Nagarwala "sees minor girls for problems with their genitals, including treatment of genital rashes", and that she does not charge for her procedures, according to the criminal complaint. She says Nargawala pinched her in her genital area and was told not to talk about the procedure.

Nagarwala claims she only removed mucous from each girl's genitals using gauze, and gave the gauze to their mothers to bury as part of a religious act, according to the court document.

The Bohras' spiritual leader, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, issued a statement a year ago saying that female genital mutilation, known as khatna within the community, should not be performed in countries where it is illegal, but he left open the possibility of practicing it in other countries. According to a Department of Justice statement, the three are believed to be the first people charged under federal law 18 U.S.C. 116, which criminalizes the practice.

During a hearing on the matter, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mona Mazjoub said, "I think there's clear and convincing evidence that your client poses a danger to the community".

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And investigators are concerned there could be more victims.