Michigan Muslim Doctor Accused of Mutilating Genitals of Young Girls Defends Procedure as Religious Practice
The attorney for a Detroit-area doctor accused of mutilating the genitals of young girls acknowledges that her client performed the procedure, but she says it was part of a religious practice.
The revelation came during a detention hearing on Monday, a few days after Jumana Nagarwala was charged in what authorities say is the first case of its kind in the country. Shannon Smith said in federal court in Michigan that her client removed the girls’ genital membrane as part of a custom practiced by the Dawoodi Bohra, a small sect of Indian Muslims of which Nagarwala is a part, the Detroit Free-Press reported.
Nagarwala, 44, of Northville, Mich., was charged last week with female genital mutilation, transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and making a false statement to a federal officer. Federal investigators say she performed genital mutilations on two 7-year-old girls at a medical clinic in Livonia, just outside Detroit. The procedures were performed secretly after business hours and without medical billing records, according to a criminal complaint.
Nagarwala, an emergency room doctor for the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, initially denied performing genital mutilation on children. She told investigators earlier this month that she’s aware the procedure is illegal in the United States.