In what is believed to be the first such case in the US, an Indian-origin woman has been arrested for allegedly performing female genital mutilation (FMG) on minor girls in Detroit.
44-year-old Jumana Nagarwala faces charges for carrying out genital mutilation on girls as young as six and seven years old, PTI reported. Jumana is said to speak Gujarati apart from English.
An emergency room physician, Jumana allegedly used to perform FMG procedures at a medical clinic in Livonia, Michigan. The complaint states that some of the children were brought from out of state for the illegal procedure and were even told to keep it a secret. The US made FGM illegal in 1996.
The BBC reported that authorities received a tip off following which they started the investigation.
If the court finds her guilty, she could get a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Jumana reportedly denied to the local media that she was involved in any such procedure.
The Detroit Free Press reported that the charges against Jumana involve the alleged mutilation of two girls.
According to court records, in February, the two seven-year-old girls arrived from Minnesota to Farmington Hills with their mothers. The girls were under the impression that they had been brought there for a "special" trip.
They were however taken to a Livonia office where they were subjected to a "barbaric" and "horrifying" procedure.
Authorities however say this could be just the tip of the iceberg and they believe that there are several more girls on whom Jumana performed FGM.
DFP reported that FBI agent Kevin Swanson, in an affidavit, wrote, "This investigation has identified other children who may have been victimized by Nagarwala. (Investigators) interviewed several minor girls in Michigan about FGM (female genital mutilation). In these interviews, multiple minor girls informed child protective services and forensic interviewers that procedures had been performed on their genitals by Nagarwala."
The US Attorney's Office told the publication that this is the first such criminal case in the country.
Jumana could get anywhere between 10 years to life imprisonment as she has also been charged with "transportation of an individual with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity".
"Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls. it is also a serious federal felony in the United States. The practice has no place in modern society, and those who perform (female genital mutilation) on minors will be held accountable under federal law," Acting US Attorney Daniel Lemisch said.
At least 200 million girls and women in 30 countries in South Asia, West Asia and Africa have been subjected to female genital mutilation. The WHO states that the procedure has no health benefits for girls and women and calls it a violation of human rights.