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Detroit physician charged with mutilating girls’ genitalia
Jeff Sessions' Justice Department is on the job. From the Detroit News.
Detroit — A Detroit emergency room physician was charged Wednesday with mutilating the genitalia of two 7-year-old girls in what is believed to be the first case of its kind brought under federal law.
Jumana Nagarwala of Livonia was charged with female genital mutilation, a five-year felony, and transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, a 10-year felony, according to a complaint unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court.
“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,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said in a 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.”
Nagarwala was arrested Wednesday night and arraigned in federal court Thursday.
She was dressed in a light-colored, matching dress and khimar, or veil that covered her head, neck and shoulders.
Magistrate Judge Anthony Patti scheduled a detention hearing in the case for 1 p.m. Monday. Her attorney and the government will argue over whether or not Nagarwala should be held in prison while she awaits trial.
In the meantime, Nagarwala will be held in jail until Monday's hearing.
Her attorney, Shannon Smith, who has offices in Bloomfield Hills, declined to comment on the case Thursday.
Nagarwala’s employer is not identified in court records. But a 44-year-old emergency room physician with the same name is listed on Henry Ford Health System’s website with hospital privileges in Detroit and West Bloomfield Township.
A Henry Ford spokesman confirmed that Nagarwala works for the hospital system and said she has been put on administrative leave.
“The alleged criminal activity did not occur at any Henry Ford facility,” health system spokesman David Olejarz said Thursday. “We would never support or condone anything related to this practice.”
The FBI investigation alleges Nagarwala removed clitoral skin from two girls who were brought to Detroit earlier this year, activity that violates both federal and state law regarding female genital mutilation.
Female genital mutilation is an internationally recognized violation of human rights and is popular among certain religious and cultural communities, according to the FBI. The procedure is believed to initiate girls into adulthood and ensure their marriageability, according to Human Rights Watch, a New York nonprofit human rights organization.
The practice is most common in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, along with migrants from those regions, according to the World Health Organization.
Worldwide, an estimated 140 million women and girls have undergone the procedure, according to the World Health Organization. More than 3 million girls in Africa undergo the procedure each year.
“Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch said in a statement. “It is also a serious federal felony in the United States. The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law.”
The case against Nagarwala dates to at least February. The FBI had launched an investigation after receiving a tip that Nagarwala performed female genital mutilation on 7-year-old girls at a Livonia medical clinic, according to the criminal complaint.