Detroit doctor accused of female genital mutilation procedures
Dr. Jumana Nagarwala (henryford.com) >
By Andrea Noble – The Washington Times – Thursday, April 13, 2017
Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced criminal charges against a Detroit emergency room physician in connection with female genital mutilation procedures carried out on several young girls.
The case is believed to be the first in which prosecutors have charged someone with performing female genital mutilation under a federal statute adopted in 1996 banning the practice in the U.S.
Jumana Nagarwala is accused of performing mutilation procedures this year on at least two young girls in a medical office in Livonia, Michigan. According to court documents, investigators believe she may have been involved in carrying out other procedures as far back as 2005.
Female genital mutilation is a practice most common in parts of Africa that involves the removal of part or all of the female genitalia. Some cultures believe the painful procedures will initiate girls into adulthood or ensure their virginity or fidelity, according to Equality Now, a human rights organization. The World Health Organization recognizes such procedures as a human rights violation.
“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,” said Daniel Lemisch, the acting U.S. Attorney Eastern District of Michigan, where the charges were filed. “The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law.”
According to an affidavit filed in the case, FBI agents were tipped off from unidentified sources that Dr. Nagarwala was performing female genital mutilation procedures. Agents said they interviewed two 7-year-old girls who said they traveled from Minnesota with their families to see the doctor. They both described the procedures and subsequent examinations showed evidence their genitalia had been cut.
A parent of one of the victims told investigators they had taken the girl to the doctor for a “cleansing” of extra skin, the affidavit states.
A Michigan branch of child protective services subsequently conducted interviews of other young girls in the area in which the children indicated that they had also had similar procedures carried out by Dr. Nagarwala, the affidavit states.
The doctor is expected to appear in court Thursday afternoon.
Dr. Nagarwala, who is listed as an emergency room physician on Henry Ford Health System’s website, was arrested Wednesday.
A Henry Ford spokesman told the Detroit News that the doctor was put on administrative leave.
“The alleged criminal activity did not occur at any Henry Ford facility,” health system spokesman David Olejarz told the paper. “We would never support or condone anything related to this practice.”
The court records state that the procedures took place at a medical clinic where the doctor did not work.
A 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 513,000 women and girls in the U.S. have undergone or are at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation.
The practice was outlawed in the U.S. in 1996, but prosecutors said this case is believed to be the first in which federal charges were brought under that law.
In 2006, Georgia prosecutors obtained a conviction for aggravated battery and crusty to children against a father who used a pair of scissors to remove his daughter’s clitoris.
The father, Khalid Adem, was an Ethiopian immigrant who spent 10 years in jail and was deported from the U.S. earlier this year.