DETROIT, MI — Little girls as young as 6 thought they were taking a “special girls’ trip” or needed to make a long journey to see the doctor because their tummies hurt, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court Thursday charging a Detroit emergency room doctor with female genital mutilation. Female mutilation is a religious and cultural practice most often found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, but it is illegal in the United States and has been denounced as a violation of women and girls by the World Health Organization.
Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, of Northville, was expected to be arraigned in federal court Thursday afternoon on the felony charges, which the Justice Department said may be the first brought under a federal statute that criminalizes the practice, commonly known as FGM. Nagarwala is accused of performing the procedures on girls between the ages of 6 and 8, many of whom traveled across state lines to her office in Livonia, Michigan.
Nagarwala, an emergency room doctor at Henry Ford Hospital, is a member of a religious and cultural community that practices FGM as a means of controlling girls’ sexuality, the government said. She didn’t perform the procedures at the hospital, according to the complaint.