Wednesday, 26 July, 2017

Area doctor charged with genital mutilation on girls

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Sammy Stanley | 14 April, 2017, 00:56

A Detroit emergency room physician at Henry Ford Hospital has been charged with performing genital mutilation surgery on several young girls.

Dr. Nagarwala's alleged victims came in from out of town, according to the complaint.

"Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls", acting U.S. Attorney in Detroit Daniel Lemisch said in a statement.

Nagarwala earned her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1998, according to the Henry Ford Health System website. Nagarwala was also charged with transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, which carries a 10-year felony, according to a complaint unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court.

The criminal complaint states that Nagarwala is a member of a religious or cultural "community" known to practice FGM on young girls. The goal is to reduce sexual pleasure. The complaint did not identify the community but said Nagarwala was a part of it.

A winter glove belonging to one of the 7-year-old girls was found at the Livonia clinic.

Some consider FGM as a religious and cultural practice. Checking phone records, agents determined the phone had been taken to MI on February 3 and returned to Minnesota the next day. They stayed at a hotel in Farmington Hills and ended up visiting Nagarwala, thinking they were seeing the doctor because their "tummies hurt".

Female genital mutiliation performed on a young girl.

Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI's Detroit Division said in a statement the allegations were "disturbing", and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was "committed to doing whatever necessary to bring an end to this barbaric practice and to ensure no additional children fall victim to this procedure". "The FBI, along with its law enforcement partners, are committed to doing whatever is necessary to bring an end to this barbaric practice and to ensure no additional children fall victim to this procedure".

The doctor allegedly removed the girls' clitoral skin. But while in metro Detroit, the girls visited Nagarwala at a Livonia clinic and underwent genital mutilation procedures, court records state.

The young girl, Victim One, according to Swanson, "said she took off her trousers and underwear and laid on an examining table with her knees near her chest and her legs spread apart".

Nagarwala faces a maximum of five years for each count of FGM.

"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 honest hope is that these charges will give support to those who have allegedly suffered both physically and emotionally".

FBI investigators have discovered other children "who may have been victimized by Nagarwala". This second girl "said her parents told her that the procedure is a secret and that she is not supposed to talk about it", stated Swanson.

Officials said some of the children's parents denied knowledge of the procedures, while others said they knew that Nagarwala had performed the procedures. She was taken to Nagarwala's office, where the procedure was allegedly performed.

This is believed to be the first case brought under a federal law that criminalizes female genital mutilation.

In a statement sent to BuzzFeed News a spokesperson for the hospital system said they were "shocked by the allegations". A spokesman for Henry Ford Health said the alleged mutilations did not occur in a Henry Ford facility and the health system does not support such practices. "We would never support or condone anything related to this practice".

A lawyer for Nagarwala did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday afternoon.

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