June 8 (UPI) -- A Detroit federal prosecutor said in court that up to 100 girls were victims of genital mutilation by a local doctor.
The court case involves a religious practice outlawed in the United States and condemned by the United Nations. The lead defendant, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, is accused of performing the procedure on two Minnesota girls. Dr. Fakhruddin Attar is accused of allowing Nagarwala to use his clinic in Livonia, a suburb of Detroit, for the procedures. Fakhruddin Attar's wife, Farida Attar, is accused of abetting the procedures by holding the girls' hands to calm them.
It is believed to be the first criminal case of its kind in U.S. history.
Fakhruddin Attar and his wife were freed on bond by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman during Wednesday's preliminary hearing, despite the objection of U.S. Assistant Attorney Sara Woodward. Woodward revealed that government prosecutors believe up to 100 girls were subjects of the mutilation procedure, also known as cutting, over a 12-year period. The prosecution has identified eight girls who were involuntarily subjected to the procedure by Nagarwala; its estimate of up to 100 is based on Fakhruddin Attar's alleged admission to authorities that he allowed Nagarwala use of his clinic up to six times per year.
"Due to the secretive nature of this procedure, we are unlikely to ever know how many children were cut by Dr. Nagarwala. The Minnesota victims were not the first victims," Woodward said.
The defense argued that that the Attars have no intention of fleeing the country, and that the procedures involved no cutting but a scraping of a genital membrane. The defendants were jailed in April, and are expected to be placed under house arrest on Thursday. They, and Nagarwala, are members of the Dawoodi Bohra, a small Muslim sect.
Nagawala remains jailed. She and Fakhruddin Attar could face up to life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against them, transportation of an individual with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Farida Attar faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The trial is scheduled to begin on October 10.