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Michigan physicians charged with FGM

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Photo courtesy of Ebony Magazine.

Photo courtesy of Ebony Magazine.

Photo courtesy of Ebony Magazine.

Sophi Sanchez, Senior Editor

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In Middle Eastern culture, female genital mutilation is a customary procedure performed to curb women’s sexuality, maintain purity and modesty, and prepare for marriage. External genital organs are removed, leaving only openings for childbirth and urination. As many of the procedures are performed primitively and in unsanitary conditions, infections are common. Chronic pain, fatal bleeding, infertility, cysts, and difficulty urinating and menstruating are also recurrent consequences. While female genital mutilation is a coming of age custom in third world countries, it is illegal in the United States. 

Despite its illegality, two Michigan physicians, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala and Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, have been charged with performing FGM on two seven year old girls, transporting minors across state lines to conduct sexual acts on them, and aiding and abetting female genital mutilation by allowing another physician to operate on a minor in their clinic. 

The two girls who were mutilated were told by their parents that they were going to Michigan on a special girls trip when in reality, they were traveling to Dr. Nagarwala and Dr. Attar’s clinic in Livonia. The physicians and the girls’ families belong to Dawoodi Bohra, an Indian branch of Shia Islam which encourages genital mutilation. The procedure was consented to by the girls’ parents, during which Dr. Attar’s wife held the girls’ hands to “ease their pain”. It is also alleged that Dr. Attar’s wife had been in contact with the girls’ parents for months prior to the operation, cautioning members of their community to deny the procedures if interviewed by law enforcement. When questioned, Dr. Nagarwala claimed that she merely scraped a layer of epithelial tissue off of the girls’ genital organs to be buried as part of a religious ceremony. However, when a Minnesota physician examined the girls, they found that their external genital organs were altered.

If convicted, the Dr. Nagarwala faces life in prison for transporting minors across state lines, five years for each mutilation charge, and another conviction for lying to a law enforcement about the incident. Dr. Attar and his wife will be charged as accessories to the crime. 

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Michigan physicians charged with FGM