A 44-year-old Indian-origin woman doctor has been arrested and charged with performing genital mutilation on girls aged 6 to 8. Jumana Nagarwala has been charged with performing FGM on minor girls out of a medical office in Livonia, Michigan.
According to Nagarwala's profile in the Henry Ford Health System website, she speaks English and Gujarati. According to the complaint, some of the minor victims allegedly traveled inter-state to have Nagarwala perform the procedure.
The complaint alleges that Nagarwala performed FGM on girls who were approximately 6 to 8 years old. This is believed to be the first case brought under a US law, which criminalises FGM.
Nagarwala, who is an emergency room physician, was arrested and was scheduled to appear in federal court in Detroit.
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.
"Despite her oath to care for her patients, Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims," Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco of the Justice Department's Criminal Division said in a statement on Thursday.
The complaint said federal agents reviewed Nagarwala's telephone records and further investigation revealed that parents of two minor girls had traveled to 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.
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.