Thursday, May 04, 2017

Magistrate Denies Bond In Female Genital Mutilation Prosecution

In Detroit yesterday a federal magistrate denied bond to two defendants charged with female genital mutilation (see prior posting), rejecting their attorney's claim that this is "part of a deeply held and longstanding religious tradition" of  the Indian-Muslim Dawoodi Bohra sect.  U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Stafford commented that the defense is using religion "as a shield." The Detroit Free Press, reports:
The case involves  Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, and his wife, Farida Attar, 50,  who were arrested April 21 at the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia, where prosecutors allege two Minnesota girls had their genitals cut in February. Attar is accused of letting another doctor use his clinic to perform the cuttings; his wife is accused of holding the girls' hands during the procedures to "comfort them."
The accused cutter is  Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, who was arrested April 12 and indicted last week in what is the the nation's first federal prosecution of genital cutting.  The FBI and prosecutors believe she has several more victims and claim that  she and her co-defendants have told others in their religious community to keep quiet about the secretive ritual.
MLive, reporting on the hearing, says:
Mary Chartier, the attorney for Fakhruddin Attar, said at Wednesday's hearing she intends to challenge the constitutionality of the 1997-passed federal law that bans genital mutilation on grounds that the ban is vague, overreaching and violates religious freedom. 
She noted that male circumcision, which also has religious origins -- but is seen by some as practical for hygienic reasons --  is legal while a similar procedure for girls is not.