Dr. Jumana Nagarwala of Detroit, Mich., was in federal court today facing charges that she performed female genital mutilation (FGM) procedures on girls as young as 7 years old. The Detroit News reports that this may be the first such case of its kind prosecuted under federal law. According to the criminal complaint, Nagarwala removed clitoral skin from two victims in separate incidents; both had been brought to Detroit for that purpose. One victim told police the procedure was so traumatic that she “couldn’t walk” afterwards and suffered pain from the site of mutilation to her ankles.
Female genital mutilation, per the FBI, is recognized as a barbaric and cruel practice that is a violation of basic human rights. Victims have their clitoris mutilated or removed; it’s called a clitoridectomy. It is a custom in certain religious and cultural groups around the world, largely in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It is performed on women for the purpose of removing pleasure from sex. The Detroit News cites the World Health Organization’s findings that around 3 million girls are subjected to the procedure every year.
For her role in this practice, Nagarwala faces felony charges of female genital mutilation and transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Both charges carry sentences from five to 10 years each. She also faces charges of lying to federal agents and conspiracy.
“Dr. Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco. The FBI’s case against Nagarwala was opened last year after a tipster informed them that she was practicing genital mutilation on girls. After discovering the first two victims, authorities are searching for more, and claim to have found additional victims of the procedure who had it performed between 2005 and 2007.
Nagarwala worked for the Henry Ford Health System as an emergency room doctor and is currently on administrative leave. She has denied the charges against her.