Published: Fri, April 14, 2017
Health Care | By Jeffery Armstrong

Area doctor charged with female genital mutilation on minors

Area doctor charged with female genital mutilation on minors

An emergency room doctor from Detroit is facing federal charges, accused of performing female genital mutilation on young girls.

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, of Northville, is charged with performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on girls who were 6 to 8 years old at a medical office in Livonia.

The girls' mothers were with them during the procedure, according to the FBI, which conducted the investigation. Her lawyer, Bloomfield Hills attorney Shannon Smith, declined comment.

Nagarwala heard the allegations during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court and was returned to jail to await another hearing Monday.

"According to the [criminal] complaint, despite her oath to care for her patients, Dr. Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims", said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco in an April 12 statement.

According to the complaint against Nagarwala, members of a particular religious and cultural community are known to use the procedure - which some see as a way to curb sexuality in girls. MN-V-1 said that NAGARWALA "pinched" her on the 'place [where] she goes pee, ' and that she was given a pad to wear in her underwear.

"The allegations detailed in today's criminal complaint are disturbing", Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent in charge David Gelios said. Someone used the phone that evening via a tower in Farmington Hills near multiple hotels, officials said. Instead, the complaint said, the girls had their genitalia altered or removed. The "Minnesota number was associated with a Minnesota family that had a daughter who had just turned 7 years old (Minnesota Victim One, or MN-V-1)". Then, with the help of cellular records and surveillance video, federal agents learned that a 7-year-old girl and her mother had traveled to metro Detroit on February 3 and stayed at a Farmington Hills hotel along with another 7-year-old girl and her parent.

FBI investigators have discovered other children "who may have been victimized by Nagarwala".

According to the station, this is believed to be the first case brought under federal law 18 U.S.C. 116, which criminalizes female genital mutilation (FGM), which typically involves the surgical removal of a female's clitoris or labia, sometimes for religious or cultural reasons.

Nagarwala herself told investigators that she knew genital mutilation was illegal and that she did not know of anyone performing it in her community, nor had she done it herself. The investigation suggests there are "multiple" other child victims of Nagarwala. A spokesman for Henry Ford Health said the alleged mutilations did not occur in a Henry Ford facility and the health system does not support such practices.

Henry Ford Health System said in a statement: "We would never support or condone anything related to this practice" and that Nagarwala was placed on administrative leave. The girl was given a pad to wear, and was told "not to talk about the procedure", the complaint said. On April 10, authorities interviewed several young girls in MI about genital mutilation and multiple girls said that they had the procedure performed on them by Nagarwala, the affidavit said. She said she was taken to the clinic with her friend because their "tummies hurt" and that the doctor would perform a procedure to "get the germs out".

A June 2016 report from the Government Accountability Office found that increased immigration from countries where it is practiced had brought it to the United States, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 2012, 513,000 women and girls here were "at risk of or had been subjected" to it.

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