Michigan emergency room physician Jumana Nagarwala is charged with allegedly performing female genital mutilation on young girls, the justice department announced Thursday.
Nagarwala allegedly used a medical office in the outskirts of Detroit to perform the genital mutilation on girls approximately 6 to 8 years old, according to the FBI criminal complaint.
One particular family’s story is detailed in the complaint, who traveled from Minnesota with their two young children. A seven-year-old girl was brought along with her sister to a hotel in Michigan, where her parents told her she was on a “special girls trip.” After her arrival she and her sister were allegedly taken to Nagarwala’s office by her parents because “our tummies hurt.” (RELATED: Husband And Wife Arrested For Performing Female Genital Mutilation At Detroit-Area Clinic)
The seven-year-old was told to disrobe as Nagarwala “pinched” her private parts. The complaint further alleges that the child was given special underwear and told not to talk about the procedure. Nagarwala then performed the same procedure on the young girls sister, who said told investigators she screamed from the pain.
A medical review of both Minnesota children found their genitals were mutilated.
The World Health Organization defines FGM as any “procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons,” and notes that “FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.” FGM is “often considered a necessary part of raising a girl, and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage” in some cultures, the WHO continues. “FGM is associated with cultural ideals of femininity and modesty, which include the notion that girls are clean and beautiful after removal of body parts that are considered unclean, unfeminine or male.”
Throughout the investigation FBI agents allege that they found “multiple minor girls” that had procedures performed on their genitals by Nagarwala. Two parents of involved children admitted to the FBI that Nagarwala had performed FGM on their daughters. Nagarwala was a practicing physician at Henry Ford hospital in Detroit and received her M.D. at Johns Hopkins University. The justice department believes Nagarwala is the first such person to be prosecuted under anti-FGM laws.
FGM’s origins in northeastern Africa are pre-Islamic, but the practice became associated with Islam because of that religion’s focus on female chastity and seclusion. There is no mention of it in the Quran. It is praised in several hadith (sayings attributed to Muhammad) as noble but not required.