A Michigan doctor and his wife were arrested and charged Friday morning for allegedly conspiring to perform female genital mutilation on minors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida Attar, were arrested just one week after officials arrested another Michigan-based doctor, Jumama Nagarwala, for performing FGM. Nagarwala is an emergency room doctor in Detroit.
“I don’t see how anyone who believes in the rule of law and the rights of women could do anything other than support efforts to end female-genital mutilation, forced marriage and honor-killings — practices that have no place in the 21st century.”
– Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt
The Attars allegedly arranged and assisted Nagarwala in performing FGM out of a medical clinic that Dr. Attar owns in Livonia, Mich. Attar’s wife works at the clinic as office manager. The three are believed to be the first people charged under a federal law that criminalizes female genital mutilation (FGM).
According to the criminal complaint, some of Attar’s victims, ranging from ages 6 to 8, are believed to have traveled interstate to have the procedure performed.
Female genital mutilation is prevalent in some majority Muslim countries and is sometimes called “cleansing” by its practitioners. It involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, often performed without anesthesia. It is designed to ensure females remain virgins until marriage.
According to a 2013 census by the Population Reference Bureau, approximately 500,000 women and girls in the United States have undergone the procedure or are at risk of the procedure.
In 2015, the issue of female genital mutilation received a wave of attention after Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt made a personal pledge of $100,000 to stop the brutal practice, after meeting Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an internationally known women’s rights advocate who suffered the barbaric practice at the age of 5.
“I don’t see how anyone who believes in the rule of law and the rights of women could do anything other than support efforts to end female-genital mutilation, forced marriage and honor-killings — practices that have no place in the 21st century,” Schmidt said in 2015.
Attar and his wife were scheduled to appear in Detroit federal court Friday afternoon.