A Detroit doctor has been charged with carrying out female genital mutilation on two seven-year-old girls in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the country. Jumana Nagarwala, 22, of Northville, Michigan, an emergency room physician at the Henry Ford Medical Center, allegedly performed the procedures at an unnamed medical clinic in the Detroit suburb of Livonia, Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch of the Eastern District of Michigan, said in press release.
According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court on April 12, Dr. Nagarwala performed the procedure on two girls from Minnesota who traveled to the clinic with their parents in February. The complaint indicates that other girls, including some from Michigan, may have been victimized between 2005 and 2007.
A receptionist at the Henry Ford Medical Center told News India Times that no information is being released at this time. Nagarwala’s biodata on the hospital website says she’s fluent in English and Gujarati. Nagarwala appeared in court on April 13 and was ordered held in jail until another hearing on April 17, The New York Times reported. David Olejarz, a spokesman for the Henry Ford Health System told The Times that Dr. Nagarwala has been placed on administrative leave.
“Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls,” Lemisch said in a statement. “The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law.”
According to the World Health Organization, Female genital mutilation, or FGM, typically involves the partial or total removal of female organs for non-medical reasons and is barred by numerous international treaties. The practice is common in several African countries, including Somalia, Sudan and Egypt, where it is often a cultural or religious tradition.
The practice was outlawed in the United States in 1996, though the Justice Department said the Michigan case appeared to be the first criminal prosecution of its kind.