Michigan Doctor Charged With Mutilating Girls’ Genitalia At the Request of Their Parents

A emergency room doctor from Detroit, 44-year-old Jumana Nagarwala, has been charged with mutilating the genitals of two 7-year-old girls, apparently at the request of their parents. It’s believed to be the first case of its kind in the U.S.

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… [Nagarwala] was charged with female genital mutilation, a five-year felony, and transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, a 10-year felony, according to a complaint unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court.

“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. “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.”

While Nagarwala is listed as a Board Certified emergency room doctor at the Henry Ford Health System’s website, where she works at two different hospitals, these acts of mutilation took place at a different location altogether.

The case against Nagarwala dates to at least February. The FBI had launched an investigation after receiving a tip that Nagarwala performed female genital mutilation on 7-year-old girls at a Livonia medical clinic, according to the criminal complaint.

Nagarwala does not work at the clinic and there are no billing records indicating that she has performed medical procedures there, according to the complaint.

The FBI found evidence that two Minnesota families with two girls called Nagarwala multiple times and stayed at hotels near the Livonia hospital when the surgeries reportedly took place. The girls also identified Nagarwala as the doctor who saw them. (Many commenters have pointed out that Minnesota is home to a large Somali population, and as Ayaan Hirsi Ali can attest, the Somali community at large approves of female genital mutilation. There are efforts to change that, though.)

Furthermore, there’s reason to believe Nagarwala’s done this several times before. It’s almost like some parents realized she’d perform this operation without saying anything to authorities, so they privately told others in their community.

(On a side note, before people start asking why Islam isn’t mentioned in many of the news reports about this, keep in mind that Nagarwala is an Indian name and she apparently speaks Gujarati as a second language, not Arabic. That’s the language I grew up hearing, and the people who speak it are usually not Muslims.)

Nagarwala denies performing the operations, but she’ll be held in jail until a hearing on Monday.

If she’s found guilty, let’s hope she gets the punishment she deserves. But that’s not enough. These parents need to be punished, too, for being complicit in female genital mutilation. While the practice may be common in Africa and the Middle East, it’s a felony here, just as it should be.

There’s no good reason, cultural or otherwise, to slice a girl’s genitals. (And, yes, the same can also be said of boys.)

Much like the “faith healing” deaths we see coming out of fringe Christian groups, the only way to stop this awful practice may be to put the culprits behind bars and make an example of them. There can be no religious or cultural exemption for this. Those parents had no right to physically harm their girls like that, and it’s an injustice that’ll affect those children for the rest of their lives.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.