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Emergency-room doctor in US Arrested in Michigan for performing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on girls between ages of 6 and 8

FILE - A counselor holds up cards used to educate women about female genital mutilation (FGM). VOA

US, An emergency-room doctor in the U.S. Midwest has been arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation on girls between the ages of 6 and 8, in the first criminal case brought under a 1996 law that outlawed the practice.

Jumana Nagarwala, a 44-year-old doctor at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, is accused of performing genital mutilation on young girls as far back as 2005, according to a criminal complaint released Thursday. The U.S. Department of Justice said she “performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims.”

Nagarwala had an initial court appearance before a U.S. magistrate Thursday in Detroit and was ordered detained until Monday, pending a further hearing on the felony charges she is facing, which specifically involve two 7-year-old girls she operated on in February.

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Senior officials called the charges “disturbing” and “deplorable,” and said U.S. law-enforcement agencies “are committed to doing whatever is necessary to bring an end to this barbaric practice, and to ensure no additional children fall victim to this procedure.”

Physician denies charges

A preliminary criminal complaint released by the U.S. Department of Justice said Nagarwala told federal agents she knew that performing female genital mutilation is a crime in the United States and denied that she conducted the procedure on anyone.

Nagarwala, who received her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, has been licensed as a physician in Michigan since 2001; state records show no formal complaints or disciplinary action against her. Her lawyer, Shannon Smith, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.

FILE – A man’s T-shirt reads “Stop the Cut” referring to Female Genital Mutilation during a social event advocating against such harmful practices at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016. VOA

If convicted, Nagarwala faces a fine and up to five years in prison for performing female genital mutilation, also known as FGM. She would be the first person prosecuted under the 1996 law prohibiting FGM.

In the most recent case outlined in the complaint, the FBI, using court-ordered telephone records and video surveillance, tracked two Minnesota mothers and their 7-year-old daughters as they visited Nagarwala at a medical office near Detroit, and where the physician allegedly performed FGM procedures on the girls two months ago.

Examination confirms FGM

One of the children told an investigator this week that they were in Michigan to see a doctor because “our tummies hurt,” and were examined by Nagarwala. The doctor reportedly told the girl she was going to perform a procedure to “get the germs out” of her body.

Doctors who examined the girls this week confirmed that their genital areas were “abnormal” and bore signs of mutilation.

The girls were interviewed by an FBI child forensic expert and identified Nagarwala as the doctor who operated on them. The parents of one of the victims later admitted to the FBI that they had taken their daughter to Nagarwala for a “cleansing” of extra skin.

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The hospital that employed Nagarwala apparently was not involved in the case, and the physician was not listed as having any links to the office in Livonia, outside Detroit, where she examined the girls.

Agents of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, who worked together on the case, said they have identified multiple other incidents where young girls have been victims of FGM allegedly performed by Nagarwala between 2005 and 2007, according to the criminal complaint.

“Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls,” acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch of the Eastern District of Michigan said in a statement. “The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law.”

А traditional surgeon is seen holding razor blades used to carry out female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation. VOA

Female genital mutilation, sometimes called female circumcision, is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and last year UNICEF estimated that 200 million women alive today in 30 countries — 27 African nations, Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen — have undergone the procedure.

Many U.S. women at risk

Although it is illegal, female genital mutilation is practiced in some African diaspora communities in the United States. According to a 2012 study by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, more than 500,000 women and girls were at risk of female genital mutilation or its consequences in the United States, more than three times higher than an earlier estimate based on 1990 census data. The study said the increase was due to rapid growth in the number of immigrants from countries where the procedure is commonly practiced.

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In 2012, Congress passed a law making it illegal to transport a girl outside the United States for the purpose of performing FGM.

The practice is rooted in attempts to control women’s sexuality and ideas about purity, modesty and beauty that persist in some communities. It is usually initiated and carried out by women, some of whom see it as an honorable practice, or who fear that failing to have their daughters and granddaughters cut will expose the girls to social exclusion.

There are no known health benefits from female circumcision, but a wide range of complications can result: recurrent infections, difficulty urinating and passing menstrual flow, chronic pain, the development of cysts, an inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth and even fatal bleeding.

A survivor’s story

“When we think of female genital mutilation, we usually think of African cultures and non-Christian religions,” said Renee Bergstrom, an American survivor of genital cutting. “However, my FGM took place in white Midwest America.”

Bergstrom and other women discussed the issue in a video produced by the U.S. State Department and posted online last month.

Until Nagarwala’s arrest, the most high-profile case related to FGM in the United States was that of a father in the state of Georgia. Khalid Adem, an Ethiopian citizen, was deported last month after serving 10 years in prison for using scissors to cut the genitals of his 2-year-old daughter. He was charged with aggravated battery and cruelty to children, not under terms of the federal FGM law invoked in Nagarwala’s case. (VOA)

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  • Lorna Montie Novach

    This is disturbing. I’ve heard of this, but had no idea it was being done here in the US.

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Facebook, YouTube dominate social media use in US

A majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook

Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
Facebook employees 'secret police' to catch information leakers. Pixabay
  • Facebook and Youtube are most popular apps in the US
  • The apps are particularly very popular among youngsters
  • Other popular apps are LinkedIn, Snapchat, WhatsApp etc.

When it comes to social media penetration in daily life, a majority of Americans are hooked on Facebook and YouTube but millennials prefer photo-sharing platforms Snapchat and Instagram, a new survey has revealed.

mobile apps that all women should have
Youngsters use a lots of app these days. Wikimedia Commons

According to the Pew Research Centre, 68 percent of all Americans use Facebook and three-quarters of that access the social media platform on a daily basis.

Nearly 74 percent of adults use YouTube and 94 percent of young users visit YouTube on their computers or smartphones.

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With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.

“Younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71 percent) visit the platform multiple times per day,” the findings showed.

YouTube is another most popular app in the US. Pixabay
YouTube is another most popular app in the US. Pixabay

Similarly, 71 percent of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45 percent) are Twitter users, the survey noted.

“These findings also highlight the public’s sometimes conflicting attitudes toward social media. For example, the share of social media users who say these platforms would be hard to give up has increased by 12 percentage points compared with a survey conducted in early 2014, the Pew Research Centre said.

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By the same token, a majority of users (59 percent) say it would not be hard to stop using these sites, including 29 percent who say it would not be hard at all to give up social media.

Some 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds indicated that they use any form of social media. That share falls to 78 percent among those ages 30 to 49, to 64 percent among those ages 50 to 64 and to 37 percent among Americans 65 and older.

Pinterest remains substantially more popular with women — 41 percent — than men (16 percent). LinkedIn remains especially popular among college graduates and those in high-income households.

WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps in Latin America.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps in Latin America.

“Some 50 percent of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just 9 percent of those with a high school diploma or less,” the survey said.

The messaging service WhatsApp is popular in Latin America, and this popularity also extends to Latinos in the US – 49 percent of Hispanics report that they are WhatsApp users, compared with 14 percent of whites and 21 percent of blacks. IANS