Prosecutors say the case is believed to be the first of its kind brought under US federal law and could see the doctor jailed.
A doctor in the US city of Detroit has been charged with carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) on young girls in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the country.
Jumana Nagarwala, 44, is accused of carrying out the procedure for 12 years from a medical office in Livonia, Michigan.
Prosecutors claimed that none of Nagarwala’s alleged victims came from outside the state and were warned not to talk about what had happened to them.
If found guilty, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
FGM was made illegal in the US in 1996.
Nagarwala is reportedly Muslim and speaks Gujarati.
Earlier this week Dr Nagarwala denied being involved in any such procedure, local media reported.
However, prosecutors stressed that she had performed “horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims”.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said, “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 practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law.”
According to the complaint, the young girls were taken to see Nagarwala by their mothers because ‘their tummies hurt’. ‘While at the doctor’s office, a procedure ‘to get the germs out,’ was performed on the first girl, according to the criminal complaint. She told the FBI that Nagarwala ‘pinched’ her on the ‘place where she goes pee’
Speaking exclusively to Conatus News, Hibo Wardere, the Somalian-born campaigner against female genital mutilation, said,
“Its a massive wake up call for America. They were dragging their feet in terms of tackling FGM. Now they have this on their door step. They cant distance themselves from FGM. For America it was hidden just like in the UK, but now it is right there in front on their faces and they will have to deal with it, as they would with any other form of child abuse. Before they were sensitive to ‘community feelings’. They put cultural sensitivities above the safeguarding of children. Now it is visible for them. Let’s see how America will handle this.”
The first recorded case of FGM in the US was in 2006, when an Ethiopian immigrant in Georgia was jailed for 10 years after he was found guilty of sexually mutilating his two-year-old daughter with scissors.