Female genital mutilation is not a sex act, attorney says

DETROIT, MI — Federal prosecutors charged two Detroit-area doctors, who are also accused of female genital mutilation, with an additional crime usually reserved for pimps who prostitute young girls.

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, of Northville, a former physician at Henry Ford Hospital, is accused of performing religious-based female circumcisions on multiple young girls from Minnesota at a since-closed Livonia clinic owned by Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53. Attar helped coordinate the after-hours procedures, the government claims.

In addition to charging the pair with crimes related to the illegal procedure, the government tacked on a count each of conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, which is punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Attorney Shannon N. Smith, who represents Nagarwala, is asking U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to dismiss those charges. She claims the U.S. government is trying to liberally “shape” the meaning of the law’s intent through ambiguous wording “to fit a litigation strategy.”

Nagarwala ,Attar Motion to Dismiss Sexual Assault by Fergus Burns on Scribd

The law:

prohibits anyone from transporting (or conspiring to transport) any individual under the age of 18 years in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent that the minor engage in prostitution or any criminal sexual activity

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Woodward explained the reasoning for the charges during a hearing in May.

She said a sexual activity is comprised of a “sexual act,” which the law defines as: “the penetration, however slight, of the vulva or anus or mouth, of another by any part of the body or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, or degrade any person or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.”

According to Woodward, female genital mutilation fits the definition.

Smith, in her motion filed on Sept. 20, quoted the government’s words in a prior filing calling the procedures conducted in this case a “religious and cultural practice.”

Friedman is scheduled to rule on the matter and potentially dismiss the charges at a hearing scheduled for Nov. 1.

Nagarwala and Attar are currently out on bond with restrictions and GPS monitoring.

The government’s case now includes at least six victims, who are believed to have undergone female circumcisions between ages 6 and 8, and seven co-conspirators from Wayne County, Oakland County and Minnesota.

Nagarwala is accused of performing at least four genital cutting operations on children between 2015 and 2017; however prosecutors allege there have been potentially hundreds more.

The procedure at question is a religious rite sometimes conducted by the India-based Dawooni Bohra Muslim sect involving removing a portion of a girl’s clitoris.

Nagarwala claimed 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 court records.

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