Feds Arrest Detroit Doctor for Female Genital Mutilation of Girls Across American Midwest
Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was arrested by the FBI Thursday and charged with carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) on multiple six to eight-year-old girls at her Livonia, Michigan office.
Dr. Nagarwala’s case is the first FGM prosecution in America under a new law aimed at the practice, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. The 11-page complaint issued accompanying her arrest makes guarded references to “members of a particular religious and cultural community.”
FGM is common in the Islamic world, particularly in Africa. According to UNICEF, 98% of Somali girls, and 87% of Egyptians have endured the procedure. FGM involves removing varying amounts of the victim’s, usually a pre-pubescent girl, clitoris, labia majoria, and labia minora. In its most extreme form, the victim is “infibulated,” having virtually all her external genitalia removed and being sown up, leaving her with only a tiny hole from which to urinate and menstruate.
Nagarwala, who works as an emergency room doctor at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital, is charged with mutilating two Minnesota girls from separate families at her office in Livonia, Michigan. The victims’ identities remain sealed, but Minnesota is host to the largest Somali immigrant population in the United States, a community in which FGM is prevalent. The complaint also alleges multiple Michigan girls have told authorities Nagarwala had cut their genitals as far back as 2005-2007, before the federal law under which she is charged had taken effect.
According to the complaint, the Minnesota victims’ parents brought them to the Detroit suburbs together, telling the children it was a “special girls trip.” They also are alleged to have told the girls the procedure was to “get the germs out.”
One of the victims described her ordeal to the FBI as “getting a shot.” She claims she screamed in pain as she was cut into, the procedure leaving her barely able to walk. She told authorities her parent told her not to talk of what happened in Dr. Nagarwala’s office.
DOJ officials issued statements about prosecuting this type of crime, heretofore unheard of in federal law enforcement. “The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse,” Acting Attorney General of the DOJ’s Criminal Division said as he announced the charges against Nagarwala.
Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch, whose office will be prosecuting the case, added, “The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law.”
“The allegations against the defendant in this investigation are made even more deplorable, given the defendant’s position as a trusted medical professional in the community,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Francis.
Nagarwala faces a maximum of five years for each count of FGM.
Detroit Doctor Charged With Female Genital Mutilation, Alleged Victims 7 Years Old
Dr. Jumana Nagarwala. (Photo:
Henry Ford Health System.)
WARNING: Some of the photos and descriptions in this story are graphic and disturbing.
(CNSNews.com) — Jumana Nagarwala, a doctor employed by the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Mich., was arrested Thursday and charged with the felony crime of female genital mutiliation (FGM) on minor girls between the ages of 6 and 8 years old.
Female genital mutiliation is a practice performed in many Islamic countries but also in some African Christian and Animist groups. There are several forms of FGM: removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy); removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (excision); sealing the vagina to a narrow opening (infibulation); other harmful procedures such as piercing, incising, and cauterizing of the ganital area.
“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. “The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse.”
Female genital mutiliation performed on a young girl. (Photo: India Times, YouTube)
“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 Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch. “The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law.”
In the April 12 complaint for an arrest warrant, FBI Special Agent Kevin J. Swanson states that “some members of a particular religious and cultural community (hereafter ‘the Community’) are known to practice FGM on young girls in the Community as part of their religious and cultural practice.”
“[W]hen FGM is performed in the Community, varying amounts of a girl’s clitoris or clitoral hood, or prepuce, are removed by the person who is performing the cutting,” said Swanson. “According to some members of the Community who have spoken out against the practice, the purpose of this cutting is to suppress female sexuality in an attempt to reduce sexual pleasure and promiscuity.”
The FBI and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received information that Dr. Nagarwala was performing FGM, in the Eastern District of Michigan, on girls “who were about 7 years old at the time,” said Swanson, “at a medical clinic in Livonia, Michigan (‘Medical Clinic’).”
Dr. Nagarwala is employed by Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, the Detroit News confirmed, and she has been put on administrative leave. 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.
The FBI obtained a court order to review Dr. Nagarwala’s phone records and discovered a series a calls between the doctor’s phone and a phone in Minnesota. 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). The Minnesota family was part of the Community in Minnesota.”
Female genital mutilation procedure. (Photo: Egypt Independent)
On Feb. 3, 2017, the Minnesota telephone number “contacted a tower in Farmington Hills, Michigan, near multiple hotels,” said Swanson. Farmington Hills has a very active Muslim community and hosted CAIR Michigan’s 15th annual banquet.
Investigation by the FBI subsequently discovered Victim One and a Victim Two, both 7-year-old girls, were staying at the same hotel with their parents in Farmington Hills. Victim One was interviewed by the FBI on April 10 and she said she was taken to Detroit from Minnsota, along with Victim Two on a “special girls” trip.
After arriving at the hotel, she said, they were taken to a doctor — identified as Dr. Nagarwala — for a procedure to “to get the germs out.”
The young girl, Victim One, according to Swanson, “said she took off her pants and underwear and laid on an examining table with her knees near her chest and her legs spread apart. 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. MN-V-1 said that she was told not to talk about the procedure.”
After female genital mutilation, sometimes the girl’s legs are tied together so she can take only small steps to
prevent tearing any stiches or opening her wounds. (Screenshot: YouTube, BBC)
A different doctor later examined the girl and confirmed that her “genitals are not normal in appearance,” reported Swanson, and the “labia minora has been altered or removed, and her clitoral hood is also abnormal in appearance.”
The second victim said Dr. Nagarwala “took off her pants and underwear and put her on the table,” according to Swanson. She then “got a shot” in her upper right thigh, so painful that she screamed.
This second girl “said her parents told her that the procedure is a secret and that she is not supposed to talk about it,” stated Swanson. “[She] said that after the procedure she could barely walk, and that she felt pain all the way down to her ankle.”
The girl’s parents subsequently told Minnesota Child Protective Services and a federal agent that they took their daughter to Dr. Nagarwala “for a ‘cleansing’ of extra skin.”
FBI Special Agent Kevin Swanson further stated in his affidavit that “this investigation has identified other children who may have been victimized by NAGARWALA between 2005 and 2007, including children in Michigan.” Interviews with other minor girls revealed that “procedures had been performed on their genitals by NAGARWALA,” stated Swanson.
When questioned by an HSI special agent and Michigan child protective services personnel, Dr. Nagarwala said she knew FGM was illegal in the United States, reported Swanson, and that “she had no knowledge of FGM being performed by anyone in her community.” she also said she had “never performed FGM on any minor children,” reported Swanson.
(Photo: Ghana News Agency.)
“The allegations against the defendant in this investigation are made even more deplorable, given the defendant’s position as a trusted medical professional in the community,” said Special Agent in Charge Francis on April 12. “My sincere hope is that these charges will give support to those who have allegedly suffered both physically and emotionally.”
Dr. Nagarwala was arrested Thursday and is scheduled to appear in federal court in Detroit on April 13.
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