Authorities charged a Michigan mother Wednesday for helping to commit female genital mutilation on girls as young as seven.
Tahera Shafiq, a 48-year-old wife and mother, now faces charges for aiding and abetting the practice and conspiring to commit genital mutilation in a growing case against three other Michigan doctors, reports CNN.
Federal prosecutors allege that Shafiq entered Burhani Medical Clinic, where Dr. Jumana Nagarwala allegedly performed the crime and left after the procedure was completed. One of the girl victims claimed Shafiq was also there at the time of her procedure, a complaint said.
“Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls. It is also a serious federal felony in the United States. The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law,” acting United States Attorney Daniel Lemisch said.
Dr. Nagarwala faces charges for performing genital mutilation on two seven-year-old girls. Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida, owned the clinic where Nagarwala allegedly performed the crime. They also face charges for performing genital mutilation, working with Nagarwala to do so and trying to cover up their practices.
Victoria Burton-Harris, Shafiq’s lawyer, argued that she was innocent of all crimes in a statement to reporters.
“There was no mutilation of any genitals, of any kind,” Burton-Harris said. “There was no federal crime committed of any type. This is, quite honestly, ignorance of religion that has caused fear and an outright attack on this particular sect of Muslims.”
Lawyers for the Michigan doctors have already argued that female genital mutilation is a religious right and that their clients merely “nicked” the girls. (RELATED:Lawyer Argues Female Genital Mutilation Is A Religious Right)
“We know there is female genital mutilation. No one is saying it doesn’t exist. But what we’re saying is this procedure does not qualify as FGM,” lawyer Mary Chartier said. “And even if it did, it would be exempt because it would violate their First Amendment rights. They believe that if they do not engage in this then they are not actively practicing their religion.”
Shafiq appeared before court Wednesday and was released on a $10,000 bond shortly thereafter. A judge ordered her to wear an ankle monitor, and she is not supposed to contact with any of the victims or witnesses in the case.
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