GPS tether bugs me, says mom in genital mutilation case

Detroit — A West Bloomfield Township woman accused of delivering her daughter to a doctor who mutilated the girl’s genitalia complained Tuesday that her GPS ankle tether is uncomfortable.

Fatema Dahodwala, 31, asked a federal judge to remove the tether, a bond condition imposed in the nation’s first case involving female genital mutilation.

“The device is physically uncomfortable, and causes irritation to the skin,” defense lawyer Brian Legghio wrote in a court filing Tuesday. “The GPS tether device is unnecessarily intrusive, more importantly, its visual presence and its intermittent beeping requires (Fatema) to explain to her eight-year-old and five-year-old children why their mother must wear an electronic bracelet on her ankle.”

The case emerged earlier this year after prosecutors say two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota were cut at a Livonia clinic.

The procedures happened even though the FBI had installed a hidden camera outside the clinic before the girls arrived. There is no indication in court records that investigators were watching the surveillance footage in real time, were aware of its significance initially or knew about the alleged surgeries beforehand.

Authorities also allege four girls from Michigan ages 8-12 were cut.

In June, Dahodwala was released on $10,000 bond, surrendered her Indian passport and was ordered to wear the tether. Legghio said the tether is inconsistent with some co-defendants, namely the two Minnesota moms.

Dahodwala is one of eight people charged in a case alleging a 12-year conspiracy that involved cutting prepubescent girls as part of a procedure practiced by some members of a small Muslim sect from India, the Dawoodi Bohra.

Locally, most members of the sect belong to the Anjuman-e-Najmi mosque in Farmington Hills.

A trial is scheduled for June in federal court.

“Ms. Dahodwala’s tether serves no practical purpose and there is no reason for her to continue to wear it for the next eight months,” Legghio wrote.

She is not a flight risk, the lawyer wrote, and follows a daily routine that limits her travel to home, mosque and school.

 Dahodwala, a stay-at-home mom, is charged with female genital mutilation conspiracy, female genital mutilation and lying to investigators.

Prosecutors estimate up to 100 girls were cut during the 12-year conspiracy. So far, the indictment references six victims.

The procedure that the government says was performed on the girls by Dr. Jumana Nagarwala of Northville was benign and not female genital mutilation, defense lawyers argue. Some defense lawyers have accused the government of overreaching.

“Any mother who provided her child to Dr. Nagarwala or anyone else, for the purposes of this religious procedure, did so in absolute firm faith that this was required by their religion and that no permanent harm would come to their child,” Dahodwala lawyer Margaret Sind Raben said.

Some members of the Dawoodi Bohra community who have spoken against the procedure said genital mutilation is performed to suppress female sexuality, reduce sexual pleasure and curb promiscuity, according to court records.

The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women, according to the World Health Organization.

Originally posted on The Detroit News:

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