A Michigan doctor has been charged for allegedly performing female genital mutilation on two seven-year-old girls, according to a complaint filed by the FBI obtained by CBS's Detroit afilliate. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, was arrested Wednesday on charges of genital cutting, transporting minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and lying to federal agents.
Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is practiced in about 30 countries as a means to reduce pleasure or promiscuity in girls and women, according to the World Health Organization. The procedure is usually tied to religious or cultural beliefs, and involves the cutting or "altering" of the clitoris, and sometimes the labia minora. FGM has been a crime in the U.S. since 1996, and in 2013, an amendment was made to also outlaw transporting girls out of the country to perform genital cutting.
Nagarwala is an emergency room doctor at a Detroit hospital, which has since placed her on administrative leave, but she is not employed at the clinic where she allegedly performed FGM. According to the affidavit, the FBI obtained phone records showing Nagarwala had several conversations with the families of the seven-year-old girls. It also stated Nagarwala and the girls’ families belong to the same religious or cultural community.
In an interview with FBI agents, one of the girls said they traveled from Minnesota to Michigan for a “special girls trip,” and they had to go to the hospital to “get the germs out.” The other girl said at the hospital she screamed and was in so much pain she could barely walk. One the child’s parents said they brought their daughter to Nagarwala for a “cleansing of extra skin.”
The FBI says they’ve also identified other children who they believe Nagarwala has performed FGM on, dating back between 2005 and 2007. She told agents she is aware genital cutting is illegal, but denies performing these acts.
A representative for Equality Now, a women’s rights organization, told the New York Times she believes this case important because it will raise awareness to an issue that many people don’t know exist.
“We know that this is a child abuse issue,” Shelby Quast said. “And we know that we need to start training our child protection folks better.”
If you know any information related to FGM in Detroit, a tipline has been set up at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5984), or on Facebook at FBI.gov/FGM.
Photo via Henry Ford Health Systems
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