Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was arrested by the FBI Thursday and charged with carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) on multiple six to eight-year-old girls at her Livonia, Michigan office.
Dr. Nagarwala’s case is the first FGM prosecution in America under a new law aimed at the practice, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. The 11-page complaint issued accompanying her arrest makes guarded references to “members of a particular religious and cultural community.”
FGM is common in the Islamic world, particularly in Africa. According to UNICEF, 98% of Somali girls, and 87% of Egyptians have endured the procedure. FGM involves removing varying amounts of the victim’s, usually a pre-pubescent girl, clitoris, labia majoria, and labia minora. In its most extreme form, the victim is “infibulated,” having virtually all her external genitalia removed and being sown up, leaving her with only a tiny hole from which to urinate and menstruate.
Nagarwala, who works as an emergency room doctor at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital, is charged with mutilating two Minnesota girls from separate families at her office in Livonia, Michigan. The victims’ identities remain sealed, but Minnesota is host to the largest Somali immigrant population in the United States, a community in which FGM is prevalent. The complaint also alleges multiple Michigan girls have told authorities Nagarwala had cut their genitals as far back as 2005-2007, before the federal law under which she is charged had taken effect.