20 April 2017

Kenya: US Doctor Accused of Cutting Girls' Genitals Has Ties to Kenya

Photo: Henry Ford Hospital
Emergency room doctor Jumana Nagarwala is accused of carrying out female genital mutilation on young girls.

A link to Kenya emerged on Tuesday in the case of a US doctor charged with violating a law prohibiting the practice of female genital cutting.

Federal prosecutors argued in a Detroit courtroom that Dr Jumana Nagarwala, 44, should be denied bail due to risk of flight stemming from her ties to Kenya and India.

Dr Nagarwala, a US citizen who practices medicine in a Detroit hospital, was arrested last week while boarding a flight to Kenya.

The doctor was going to visit two of her children who are enrolled in a boarding school in Nairobi, according to court papers.

Documents in the case do not specify which school the two children attend, nor are their names provided.

Both children are described as older than Dr Nagarwala's two other children, ages six and eleven, who live in her marital home in the US.

The defendant's attorney, Shannon Smith, is reported to have said in court on Thursday that her client was not attempting to flee the US at the time of her arrest.

DENIED BAIL

Dr Nagarwala was unaware that she was under FBI investigation and was intending to make a long-planned visit to her children in Nairobi, Ms Smith said, according to press accounts of the court session.

US Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub denied bail to Dr Nagarwala whose husband, prosecutors had said, owns two homes in India, one of which is for rent.

Ms Smith maintained that Dr Nagarwala did not actually cut the genitals of two seven-year-old girls in February, as prosecutors allege.

The doctor instead removed membrane from the girls' genitals, the attorney said. Dr Nagarwala wrapped the membrane in gauze and gave it to the girls' parents for burial in keeping with a religious custom of an Indian Muslim community know as the Dawoodi Bohra, Ms Smith recounted.

If convicted on charges of what is often referred to as female genital mutilation, Dr Nagarwala could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

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