Newly unsealed court records reveal the details of how a Detroit emergency room doctor allegedly conducted female genital mutilation on two seven-year-old girls.
Jumana Nagarwala, charged Wednesday, faces up to 15 years in prison on two felony counts. She is reportedly the first person in the United States to be tried under federal law for female genital mutilation.
“Khatna” or “female circumcision,” other terms used for female genital mutilation, is widely practiced on girls in other parts of the world as a means to enforce modesty and eliminate the ability to enjoy sex as adults. It can have adverse health effects and has no known benefits. Despite being a largely religious cultural practice, it is illegal in the U.S.
The 11-page complaint against Nagarwala, filed in a Michigan district court, claims that she performed female genital mutilations at a Livonia medical clinic where she does not work.
In February 2017, two Minnesota mothers traveled with their seven-year-old daughters to Michigan, staying in a hotel room, the complaint says; one of the girls later told law enforcement it was “a ‘special’ girls’ trip.”
One of the seven-year-olds also said she and the other child went to the doctor “because our tummies hurt,” undergoing a procedure where the doctor “pinched” her “on the place [where] she goes pee… to get the germs out,” the complaint recounted.
The other girl described screaming after she “got a shot,” telling law enforcement that she “could barely walk, and that she felt pain all the way down to her ankle.” She forgot a winter glove in the doctor’s office, she told law enforcement, and when they raided the office, they found a single glove with the child’s name written on the inside.
Nagarwala may have been performing this practice since 2005, the complaint suggests. Child Protective Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed “multiple minor girls,” who said “that procedures had been performed on their genitals by Nagarwala.”
The doctor denied to law enforcement that she had performed female genital mutilation or that she knew of “anyone in her community” who had, the complaint says.
The complaint does not specify which Livonia clinic hosted the alleged female genital mutilations. Nagarwala, 44, has been placed on administrative leave from her job as an emergency room doctor for the Henry Ford Health System, the Detroit News reported.
The FBI estimated last year that as many as half a million women and girls in the United States were at risk of female genital mutilation.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.