A Detroit area emergency room doctor at the Henry Ford Hospital has been charged with performing female genital mutilation on minors, and she may be facing life in prison. The practice has been banned in the United States since 1996, meaning she has highly abused her power as a doctor and has also broken the Hippocratic Oath that she took when she was originally awarded her degree and license.
Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was arrested Wednesday after she was alleged to have performed the operation on two seven-year-old girls who had come from out of state to have the procedure performed on them.
The children later told investigators thought they were coming to Michigan from Minnesota for a “special trip.” They were then told that they were being taken to the doctor for a tummy ache, and then the procedure was performed to “get the germs out.” The children were then given pads to wear to soak up the blood and told not to speak about what just happened to anyone.
One of the victims was able to identify Nagarwala from a photograph. The other stated that she believed she had gotten a shot on her upper right thigh that was very painful and made it impossible for her to walk afterward.
They are not aware of the practice of female genital mutilation due to their age, nor are they aware they have been scarred for life.
One of the victim’s parents did not admit that they had taken their child knowingly for female genital mutilation, but said they took her to be “cleansed” of “extra skin” on her genitals.
It is alleged that the doctor has been performing illegal female genital mutilation on underage girls for the past twelve years. She appeared in court on Thursday and a plea was not entered, however, she firmly denies the charges. She faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.
Assistant attorney general, Kenneth Blanco, weighed in on the alleged crimes of female genital mutilation.
“Despite her oath to care for her patients, Dr Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims. 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.” he said.
This is the first case of its kind and scale to be discovered since the practice has been criminalized in the United States. In 2006, an Ethiopian immigrant was put in prison for 10 years after it was found that he had performed female genital mutilation on his two-year-old daughter using scissors.
The medical community feels that the practice of female genital mutilation has no place in modern society and should therefore be illegal. There are no known health benefits and it appears it simply exists for the sole purpose of ensuring that females do not experience sexual pleasure.
The World Health Organisation, however, estimates that it is performed in over 30 different countries worldwide and 200 million young girls have been subjected to female genital mutilation.
They discuss the issue on their website.
“It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children,” they write.
According to Human Rights Watch, it is often mistakenly referred to as a practice stemming from Islam, however, this is not the case. The practice is now mostly regional and predates modern religion. It has been performed in the past by those who practice all mainstream religions and in some cases, continues to be done by Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
[Featured Image by The Henry Ford Health System]