As many as 100 girls may have had their genitals cut by a Michigan-based doctor and her associates, according to a federal prosecutor.
Dr. Jumana Nagarwala is part of a group, all involved in the same Indian-Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, all believed to have been involved in gender mutilation procedures for a 12-year period.
The government said that eight victims have been identified, but Woodward added that there could be up to 100 girls who have had their genitals mutilated.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward made the allegations against Nagarwala during court proceedings on Wednesday, The Detroit Free Press reported.
Nagarwala faces charges involving the gender mutilation of two Minnesota girls at a Livonia clinic, in Michigan, in February as part of a secret religious rite of passage.
“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.”
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman granted bond to two others in the case, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida Attar.
Dr. Fakhruddin Attar is accused of letting Nagarwala use the clinic to perform the gender mutilation procedures, while his wife is accused of holding the hands of the girls having the procedure done in order to keep them calm.
An FBI investigation led to the discovery of the group’s activities, which led to the Justice Department filing charges against them in April.
Mary Chartier, a lawyer for the Attars, argued that the procedure is a protected religious rite of passage that doesn’t involve any cutting, but instead only the scraping of the girls’ genitals.
“I think the government has overstated so many aspects of this case, and this is one more example of overreaching,” Chartier said, the Detroit Free Press reported.
As a part of their bond, the Attars will have to surrender their passports and will be put under house arrest with GPS monitors. They won’t be able to leave home except for doctor and lawyer visits.
Nagarwala and Dr. Fakhruddin Attar face up to life in prison, while Attar’s wife faces up to 20 years in prison.
A trial is set for October 10.