Jumana Nagarwala Released on $4.5M Bond in U.S. Genital Mutilation Case
Detroit-based Indian American doctor Jumana Nagarwala, whose arrest for for performing genital mutilation (FGM) on Muslim girls sent shock waves among the community in the United States, was released from jail on $4.50 million bond as she awaits trial.
Federal judge Bernard Friedman granted her release on Sept. 19, after her supporters pledged to pay the bond if she flees the country. According to the judge, the pledge is a “very comprehensive package” in allowing the accused to be released.
The decision was made even after the federal prosecutors called Nagarwala a danger to community whose access to $2.40 million in assets could help her escape from justice. The prosecutors reminded the judge that Nagarwala’s arrest happened when she was boarding a flight to Kenya to visit two of her four children who study abroad, Detroit News reported.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the US District Court for Eastern District Michigan, Nagarwala was accused of violating the law that prohibits female genital mutilation and for transporting girls for criminal sexual activity. The complaint defines sexual activity in this case as “the touching of genitalia with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass or degrade.” The story first came to light when she did the procedure on two 7-year-old Minneota girls who were taken to her by their mothers for a “special girls’ trip” in February.
FGM involves cutting or removing female genitalia — usually the clitoris and vulva — and then the resulting skin is stitched together with gaps left for urination and menstrual blood. It is often done without anesthesia by medically untrained women. Despite bans and protests, FGM is widely practised in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The procedure is banned in the United States.
When Nagarwala was interrogated by federal agents on April 10, she denied having performed the procedure, because of which a charge of lying to federal agents was added to the complaint. “According to the complaint, despite her oath to care for her patients, Dr. Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco was quoted as saying by India West. “The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse.”
The mothers who took their daughters to Nagarwala are charged with conspiracy and genital mutilation. Nagarwala defends herself by saying she performed a religious custom on girls from the Dawoodi Bohra sect, to which she belongs.
Indian-origin doctor Fakhruddin Attar and his wife Farida Attar are also named as defendants in the case. Attar allegedly let Nagarwala use his Livonia, Michigan, clinic for the procedures, while Farida Attar is said to have held the girls down.