US doctor charged with performing female genital mutilation | News | DW | 14.04.2017
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US doctor charged with performing female genital mutilation

The doctor faces life in prison if found guilty of carrying out female genital mutiliation on girls under eight. Her arrest is the first under a US federal law banning the widely condemned practice.

Detroit emergency room doctor Jumana Nagarwala was remanded in custody for the Easter weekend after being arrested and charged with two counts of female genital mutilation (FGM) on young girls.

Forty-four-year-old Nagarwala appeared in a US federal court in Detroit on Thursday, after the youngsters identified her as the doctor who performed the procedures on them at a clinic in the city in February, the FBI said. Nagarwala has denied carrying out the ritual.

The US Attorney's Office in Detroit said it's the first case of its kind to be prosecuted in a federal court.

"Despite her oath to care for her patients, Dr Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims," said acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco.

Blanco said the practice "has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law."

Other accusers have come forward

The FBI said several other girls have alleged that Nagarwala carried out the procedure, but investigators would not confirm whether further charges are likely.

The Detroit Free Press cited court papers that described how the girls from Minnesota - which lies roughly 650 miles (1,046 kilometers) west of Detroit - were told they were going out of town for a "special" trip. Instead, they were taken to a doctor's office in Detroit and were allegedly subjected to the "barbaric" procedure and told to keep it secret, the newspaper said.

Nagarwala has been placed on leave from her position at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. A spokesman for the hospital insisted the alleged criminal activity didn't take place at its facility.

The procedure, which is more common in some African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries, involves the removal of some of all of the external female genitalia, and is seen as an attempt to control women's sexuality in conservative societies.

Infografik Female genital mutilation/cutting Weibliche Genitalverstümmelung Englisch

FGM has no known health benefits, and is known to cause recurrent infections, chronic pain, problems with pregnancy and childbirth as well as fatal bleeding. It is also known to make sexual intercourse painful for women.

Illegal for two decades

The US outlawed genital mutilation or cutting in 1996 on anyone under 18 and several US states have their own laws prohibiting the practice.

In 2006, an Ethiopian man was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court under legislation in the state of Georgia after being found guilty of sexually mutilating his two-year-old daughter with a pair of scissors.

Globally, an estimated 200 million girls and women have suffered some form of female genital mutilation, according to United Nations figures. In 2016, the UN issued new guidance on how to treat the victims of the procedure.

In the US, immigration from countries where the procedure is practiced has led to the number of women at risk of having the ritual performed increase three-fold in just over two decades, according to 2012 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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