The Justice Department just arrested and charged a Michigan emergency room doctor with performing female genital mutilation on a number of minor-aged girls, some as young as six years old.
According to the Justice Department’s criminal complaint, two seven-year-old victims from Minnesota were brought to Dr. Jumana Nagarwala’s clinic in Livonia by their mothers under the premise that they were going on a “special girls trip.” Instead, the two girls were brought to clinic, where one victim said she was told she underwent a procedure to “get the germs out.”
One of the girls reportedly told the FBI that Nagarwala “pinched” her on the “place (where) she goes pee” before being instructed not to talk about what had happened.
A physical exam was later performed by a medical doctor as part of a search warrant, confirming that the girl had been forcibly subjected to FGM.
Another young victim described experiencing unbearable pain and being unable to walk after her own “procedure.”
Multiple young girls have confirmed to Child Protective Services that they experienced similar treatment at the clinic. Multiple parents have admitted they brought their children to Nagarwala for the procedure, while others have denied any knowledge of it.
For her part, however, Nagarwala has claimed she never performed FGM procedures on anyone.
Officials noted this is the first case to be tried under 18 U.S.C. 116, the federal law that criminalizes FGM. The practice is extremely rare and illegal in the United States, but is still a relatively common practices in certain areas throughout the Middle East and Africa. According to the World Health Organization, more than 3 million girls in Africa undergo the procedure each year.
Justice Department officials were quick to condemn the actions in a press release issued Wednesday.
“According to the 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. “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 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."