The federal attorney leading the first federal prosecution of female genital mutilation in the U.S. dropped a bombshell at a hearing in Michigan on Thursday. As many as 100 young girls may have been subjected to the procedure by Dr. Jumana Nagarwala and her associates, according to government estimates, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward told a federal judge. The Detroit Free Press reports that the disclosure came at a hearing to determine whether the three suspects in the case should be allowed bond.
“Due to the secretive nature of this procedure, we are unlikely to ever know how many children were cut by Dr. (Jumana) Nagarwala,” Woodward said. “The Minnesota victims were not the first victims,” she added, referring to the two 7-year-old girls who were cut earlier this year and led to the arrest of Nagarwala, 44, and another doctor, Fakhurddin Attar, 53, and his wife, Farida Attar, 50.
Federal prosecutors allege the trio, all members of a small Indian-Muslim sect, have been performing the procedure on girls for the last 12 years. According to the indictment, they’ve also been charged with obstructing a federal investigation. Nagarwala was fired from her job as a emergency physician earlier this year when the accusations came to light. According to authorities, she’d been performing the FGM procedures during off hours at Fakhurddin Attar’s medical offices. Woodward said the estimate of 100 girls came from admissions made by Attar under questioning by investigators
Today: Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, the MI doc accused of FGM, pleaded not guilty. She was also let go from her job as an Emergency Dept physician. pic.twitter.com/jIBuSUM8Z4
— Sonia Moghe (@soniamoghe) April 27, 2017
Attar’s attorney disputed that estimate in court. “I think the government has overstated so many aspects of this case and this is one more example of overreaching,” Mary Chartier said. In previous court appearances Chartier has suggested that the ritual procedure that was performed was not FGM and that the defendants are being persecuted for their religious beliefs.
The judge ruled the Attars are neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk and approved their release on bond. Nagarwala will remain in custody.
Read the full story at The Detroit Free Press.