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Published: Fri, April 14, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

Area doctor charged with genital mutilation on girls

Area doctor charged with genital mutilation on girls

A Detroit emergency room doctor has been charged with performing genital mutilation on young girls in what is believed to be the first criminal case of its kind brought by U.S. prosecutors.

Jumana Nagarwala, M.D., of Northville, Michigan, is charged with performing FGM on minor girls out of a medical office in Livonia, Michigan. In a court filing, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said many more girls have told investigators that Nagarwala performed procedures on their genitals.

Nagarwala heard the allegations during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court and was returned to jail to await another hearing Monday.

"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.

In the April 12 complaint for an arrest warrant, FBI Special Agent Kevin J. Swanson states that "some members of a particular religious and cultural community (hereafter "the Community") are known to practice FGM on young girls in the Community as part of their religious and cultural practice".

The criminal complaint charges the doctor with multiple felonies for performing the mutilation surgery common for those of a certain religion, of which Nagarwala is a member of.

The Henry Ford Health System - which has locations in Detroit and West Bloomfield Township - confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Nargarwala was a doctor with the hospital system and said she has been put on administrative leave. Other doctors later examined the children and saw evidence of genital mutilation. Officials said the glove had the girl's first name written on it.

CBS Detroit reports that one alleged victim, a 7-year-old Minnesota resident, told an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent she was bought by her parents to Detroit with another child for what she was told was a "special girls trip".

A winter glove belonging to one of the 7-year-old girls was found at the Livonia clinic.

The complaint alleged that other girls in MI also said Nagarwala had performed such procedures on them, though it did not specify how many.

Female genital mutilation, or FGM, typically involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris and is barred by numerous global treaties.

Nagarwala voluntarily spoke with an HSI special agent and said she is aware that FGM is illegal in the USA and that she had no knowledge of FGM being performed by anyone in her community.

"The alleged criminal activity did not occur at any Henry Ford facility", David Olejarz said in an email. One of the girls said that she thought she was coming to Detroit for a "special" girls trip, but after arriving at the hotel, she learned that she and the other girl had to go to the doctor because "our tummies hurt".

Officials said the phone was tracked on February 3 from Minnesota to MI. "MN-V-1 said that she was told not to talk about the procedure".

The FBI said it pursued the case after the agency and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations received information that Nagarwala was performing FGM in the area.

Medical exams of both girls showed their genitals had been altered, according to authorities.

When questioned by an HSI special agent and MI child protective services personnel, Dr. Nagarwala said she knew FGM was illegal in the United States, reported Swanson, and that "she had no knowledge of FGM being performed by anyone in her community." she also said she had "never performed FGM on any minor children", reported Swanson. The specific cases claim that a pair of girls traveled from MI to Minnesota in order to see the doctor in February.

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