Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was arrested on Wednesday for performing female mutilation surgery on girls in the last 12 years, reportedly carrying out the procedures at a clinic in a Detroit suburb.

Nagarwala worked at the Henry Ford Hospital, although a spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the illegal procedures did not take place at any Henry Ford clinical building.

Henry Ford Hospital.
The Henry Ford Hospital. Image credit: Henry Ford Hospital.

“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,” stated Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco.

Illegal Female Genital Mutilation

44-year-old Jumana Nagarwala carried out the procedure on minor girls in a medical office in Livonia, Michigan. Allegedly, some of the victims traveled interstate to have the procedure performed on them, some of which were 6 to 8 years of age.

Apparently, this would be the first case on the criminalization of female genital mutilation or FGM for short. The procedure, also known as female circumcision, was criminalized on 1996 under federal law. The World Health Organization classifies it as a shameful act that represents inequality among both sexes.

According to the Department of Justice, FGM represents a form of violence against women of all ages, classified as a federal felony in the United States. The DOJ claims that there is “no place in modern society” for FGM or those who perform it on minors.

Furthermore, FBI agents argue that Nagarwala was a trusted medical professional in the community, although the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Complaints reviewed by the FBI include two 7-year-old girls that were brought to Nagarwala’s clinic from outside the state. One of the victims confessed that they were told to be on a “special” trip and had to go to the doctor because their “tummies hurt.” The girls were laid on the examining table and were given a shot in the upper thigh before the procedure. After the surgery, they felt pain and could barely walk, but apparently, the doctor told them that they were fine. Both girls identified a photo of Nagarwala and recognized her as the one who performed the surgery.

The girls had their genitals examined by other practitioners, encountering scars, tears, and lacerations. Furthermore, one of the girls had left a glove on Nagarwala’s office, and as FBI agents examined the clinic, they found the missing glove. Her parents claim that they took her to the clinic for a “‘cleansing’ of extra skin.”

Dr. Nagarwala denied having performed the surgeries on both girls or other patients for that matter and claimed that she’s aware of female genital mutilation being illegal in the United States. She is being charged with female genital mutilation, transportation with criminal intent, and providing a false statement to an officer of the law. If found guilty, Nagarwala may face up to five years in prison.

Anyone with relevant information concerning the case or any event regarding the illegal practice of FGM for that matter may call 1-800-CALL-FBI or send a message through fbi.gov/fgm.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice