A Michigan doctor and his wife have been arrested in connection with the first ever prosecution for female genital mutilation (FGM) in the US.
Dr Fakhruddin Attar, 53, and Farida Attar, 50, are charged with conspiracy to perform the banned surgery at their medical clinic in a Detroit suburb.
They allegedly conspired with emergency room doctor, Jumana Nagarwala, who was arrested last week.
Two girls who underwent the procedure identified Mrs Attar and Ms Nagarwala.
The couple were arrested on Friday morning, and are expected to appear in court later today on charges of conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation and aiding and abetting female genital mutilation.
A seven-year-old girl from the neighbouring state of Minnesota told a child forensic interviewer that she had been brought to the couple’s Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia for a “special girls’ trip”.
The girl, who has been removed from home by child protective services, said she and another girl were told by their mothers they had to go to the doctor to “get the germs out”.
On 11 April, a medical examiner in Minnesota inspected both girls and confirmed they had undergone genital surgery, which caused them much pain.
The couple is alleged to have allowed Ms Nagarwala access to the clinic, where she worked with Mrs Attar to perform the operation on girls between the ages of six to eight.
Local media have identified the three arrested as members of a small sect of Shia Islam that has been linked to Australia’s first FGM case.
FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials suspect that there may be more victims of FGM in the Detroit area.
A lawyer for Dr Nagarwala, who was arrested on 12 April, has claimed the procedure was not FGM, but rather a religious ceremony to wipe off a small amount of mucous membrane, which was given to the family on a gauze pad for burial.
“This is part of the culture,” defence lawyer Shannon Thompson told a judge on Monday at a bond hearing for Ms Nagarwala.
However, Judge Mona Majzoub decided to hold her in jail without bond due to the “clear and convincing evidence that she poses a danger to the community”.
Since being charged, Dr Nagarwala has been placed on leave from her emergency room position at a local hospital.
Two more arrested in Michigan in first FGM prosecution in US