New York: An Indian-origin woman doctor,charged with performing genital mutilation on two minor girls, has denied the allegations, saying she merely performed a religious ritual for families of a Muslim sect.
Jumana Nagarwala, 44, was arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on minor girls aged 6 and 8 out of a medical office in Livonia, Michigan.
Her lawyer Shannon Smith said Nagarwala told her that the procedure was part of a religious practice that is tied to a Muslim group Dawoodi Bohra that the doctor belongs to, Detroit Fress Press reported.
According to the complaint, some of the minor victims allegedly traveled inter-state to have Nagarwala perform the procedure, the report said.
All of this was disclosed at a detention hearing for Nagarwala, who was ordered locked up pending the outcome of her case.
The judge concluded she was a danger to the community and a flight risk after hearing arguments from both sides.
The government argued that Nagarwala engaged in secretive practice that has potentially harmed numerous young girls across Michigan. And she did it after hours, in a private unnamed clinic in Livonia, without keeping any records or billing anyone, the government said.
According to Nagarwala's profile in the Henry Ford Health System website, she speaks English and Gujarati. The complaint alleges that Nagarwala performed FGM on minor girls. This is believed to be the first case brought under a US law, which criminalises FGM.
The number of girls under 18 at risk for FGM in the US has quadrupled since 1997. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 513,000 women and girls are at risk of FGM in the US.
Congress passed a law in 1996 making it illegal to perform genital mutilation or cutting in the US on anyone under than 18. FGM is punishable by up to five years in prison, however, it is not a crime in 26 US states, including Michigan.
The girls were later interviewed by a forensic expert and one of the girls said she was told she was coming to Detroit for a "special" girls trip, but after arriving at the hotel, she learned that she and the other girl had to go to the doctor because "our tummies hurt".
The girls had been taken to Nagarwala, who performed the procedure on the girls. The World Health Organisation said female genital mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.
WHO said FGM, which is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, is a violation of the human rights of girls and women....