Judge dismisses 1 charge in female genital mutilation case

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DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge in Detroit has dismissed one of several charges against two doctors in connection with a female genital mutilation case.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled Sunday that Dr. Jumana Nagarwala and Dr. Fakhruddin Attar didn’t commit conspiracy to transport a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Two of the girls Nagarwala is accused of cutting at Attar’s clinic were from Minnesota.

Friedman wrote that prosecutors hadn’t contended that any “libidinal gratification” was “sought or obtained” from subjecting the girls to the procedure.

“The facts alleged in the indictment do not support this charge because, as a matter of law, FGM, while a prohibited criminal act, is not ‘criminal sexual activity,'” Friedman wrote.

Attorneys for the doctors had sought to have the charge dismissed.

Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision or cutting, or FGM, has been condemned by the United Nations and outlawed in the United States. But the practice is common for girls in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Nagarwala was arrested in April. She is accused of cutting at least six girls at Attar’s clinic in Livonia, just west of Detroit. The two Minnesota girls were brought to Michigan by their mothers, who are also charged in the case. The girls were 7 years old at the time. Their mothers are also charged in the case.

Nagarwala denies any crime was committed. She said she performed a religious custom on girls from her Muslim sect, the India-based Dawoodi Bohra.

A grand in Michigan indicted Nagarwala, Attar and Attar’s wife, Farida, on charges including female genital mutilation and conspiracy. The federal indictment alleged the trio tried to obstruct the investigation by telling other people to make false statement to authorities. The doctors are also accused of lying to investigators.

A total of eight people are charged in the case.

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