US Doctor Charged With Female Genital Mutilation of 7-Year-Olds
A doctor was charged on Thursday for performing genital mutilation on two young Minnesota girls who travelled to Michigan with their mothers, the first federal prosecution of what the government describes as "horrifying acts of brutality."
Dr Jumana Nagarwala was arrested after the 7-year-olds identified her as the person who performed procedures on them in February at a clinic in suburban Detroit, according to the FBI.
Nagarwala heard the allegations during a brief appearance in US District Court and was returned to jail to await another hearing on Monday. Prosecutors want to keep her locked up without bond.
Defence attorney Shannon Smith declined to comment to reporters. In a court filing, the FBI said many more girls have told investigators that Nagarwala performed procedures on their genitals.
Female genital mutilation of minors is illegal in the US unless there's a legitimate health reason. The US Attorney's Office in Detroit said it's the first case of its kind to be prosecuted in federal court.
The FBI said Nagarwala, 44, is a member of a cultural community that believes in the practice, but that she denied performing it when interviewed by agents. She is charged with genital mutilation, making false statements and other crimes.
The government didn't disclose the name of the suburban clinic. Nagarwala apparently doesn't work there regularly. The World Health Organisation said the practice of removing or injuring female genital organs has no known health benefits. Yet it has been performed on more than 200 million women and girls in 30 countries, according to the group.
Nagarwala, a 1998 graduate of Johns Hopkins medical school in Baltimore, has been placed on leave at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit where she is an emergency room doctor. Online records show no history of discipline by state regulators.
Join The Quint on WhatsApp. Type “JOIN” and send to 9910181818.
(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit the Subscribe button.)