A Henry Ford Hospital emergency room doctor who was arrested and charged in connection to performing female genital mutilation on young girls has been detained after a federal judge called her a flight risk.
Jumana Nagarwala, 44, of Northville, was in federal court for a detention hearing. During the hearing, Nagarwala's attorney said the feds have it all wrong. She said it was not an illegal medical procedure, but a religious procedure with no cutting.
According to a criminal complaint, Nagarwala performed the procedure on girls ages six to eight years old at a medical clinic in Livonia.
Some of the children were brought from out of state for the illegal procedure. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is considered the complete removal or partial removal of the clitoris, known as a clitoridectomy. FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of women and girls.
Some consider FGM as a religious and cultural practice. The purpose of this illegal practice is to suppress female sexuality in order to reduce sexual pleasure.
In the criminal affidavit, Nagarwala performed FGM on girls who were approximately 7 years old at the time at a clinic in Livonia.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Woodward told the judge that the doctor participated in the very secretive practice after the office closed.
Defense Attorney told Shannon Smith said in spit of using a clinic, the procedure is done by the Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, based in India with mosques across the U.S. and around the world.She said the clinic was used to keep it sterile.
Magistrate Mona Majzoub ordered Nagarwala to be held in federal detention with no bond on the grounds that the charges involve children, that she is a flight risk with financial resources and a danger to the community.
Family members were in court on Monday afternoon but they had no comment.
The investigation revealed that in one particular case, a 7-year-old was brought by her family from Minnesota. An investigation into phone records revealed their location. The child was interviewed on April 10. She stated that she was brought to Detroit for "special girls trip."
The child victim also stated that she said she had to go to the doctor "to get the germs out." Upon a medical exam on April 11, a doctor determined that the child's genitals had been altered or removed. The child identified Dr. Nagarwala as the doctor who performed the procedure.
The affidavit also alleges that there are Michigan victims as well.
“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,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse.”
“Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls. It is also a serious federal felony in the United States. The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law,” stated Acting United States Attorney Daniel Lemisch.
“The allegations detailed in today’s criminal complaint are disturbing. The FBI, along with its law enforcement partners, are committed to doing whatever necessary to bring an end to this barbaric practice and to ensure no additional children fall victim to this procedure”, said Special Agent in Charge David Gelios.
“The allegations against the defendant in this investigation are made even more deplorable, given the defendant’s position as a trusted medical professional in the community,” said Francis. “My sincere hope is that these charges will give support to those who have allegedly suffered both physically and emotionally.
The FBI believes there could be more victims. They have set up a tip line for anyone who has any information pertaining to the illegal practices of FGM or Nagarwala. Please call 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5984) or file an e-tip at FBI.gov/FGM .
Henry Ford issued the following statement:
The alleged criminal activity did not occur at any Henry Ford facility. We would never support or condone anything related to this practice. The doctor has immediately been placed on administrative leave.