Harrowing Details in Michigan FGM Case a Grim Reminder of Trauma Little Girls Face Here in U.S.
Two 7-Year-Old Mutilated Girls Describe Torture in Michigan Medical Clinic; Were Forced to Doctor’s Office to ‘Get the Germs Out’ and Could Hardly Walk After Procedure
Washington, D.C.—Dr. Jumana Nagarwala is awaiting trial in Michigan on a federal charge of mutilating little girls’ genitals. While an upcoming hearing will determine whether the doctor will be granted release from pre-trial detention, an affidavit filed by the prosecution in the case provides details of the victims’ harrowing experiences—grim reminders of the physical and emotional scars girls and women face right here in America because of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Elizabeth Yore, an international child rights advocate and head of the initiative EndFGMToday.com, has been following the case closely and says the shocking details that will emerge from the upcoming trial will raise awareness about this horrific practice.
“A hidden underground network of female mutilators has been uncovered in this important case,” Yore said. “As the case progresses, the facts will continue to be denied and obscured by the defense. There will be grandstanding about religious freedom, the Muslim religion and so-called ‘Islamophobia.’ But we should not be fooled. At its core, this is a straightforward case about the brutal and barbaric mutilation of innocent and helpless little girls. This is the hideous face of child abuse.”
In April, Nagarwala, a practicing Muslim in the Dawoodi Bohra sect, was indicted by the federal government for performing genital mutilation on girls in a Livonia, Michigan, medical clinic. The Dawoodi Bohra sect, Yore reported, practices and sanctions FGM on little girls to curb sexual desire and discourage any proclivity for premarital or extramarital affairs. Because 22 Dawoodi Bohra mosques exist in the U.S., it seems a safe bet that a covert network of female genital mutilators associated with the sect continues this appalling form of child abuse, despite it being a federal crime in the United States, Yore added.
According to the affidavit made in support of the criminal complaint against Dr. Nagarwala, an increasing number of females worldwide have begun to speak out publicly about FGM and the debilitating physical and psychological effects it has had on them and their families. Many describe pain during and after the procedure and problems with their child-bearing and personal health later in life.
Two 7-year-old girls also provided investigators with details of their experience, which were also outlined in the affidavit. One of the girls said she was taken to a Detroit hotel for a “special” girls trip, then went to a doctor’s office because their “tummies hurt.” She recounted that a procedure to “get the germs out” was performed on an examination table, that she was given a pad to wear in her underwear afterward and was told not to talk about the procedure. A second girl, also 7, recounted that she was given a shot in her upper thigh that hurt so badly she screamed. She drew a picture of the room and indicated blood on the exam table, adding that she could barely walk after the procedure.
Nagarwala has been charged with conspiracy, genital mutilation, transporting minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, lying to a federal agent and obstructing an official proceeding. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison.
“We were encouraged to see that—after the indictment of Nagarwala and other alleged co-conspirators—the state of Michigan passed strong FGM legislation, which makes the crime a felony in that state, punishable by up to 15 years in prison,” Yore said. “But the action came two months after those involved were charged. Must we wait for little girls to be mutilated before legislation criminalizing FGM is enacted? Every state in the union should have these laws on their books so no more little girls or other females are subjected to this brutality.”
Yore and her fellow advocates at EndFGMToday have been calling on other states to enact similar legislation to Michigan’s FGM prohibition measures, the most recent being Maine. Incredibly, lawmakers there failed to pass such a bill last month.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half a million girls and women in America have already been subjected to such mutilation—or are at risk of having it inflicted upon them.
Learn more at www.EndFGMToday.com and on social media at #EndFGMToday about FGM and efforts underway in the U.S. to stop it.