A doctor was charged Thursday with performing genital mutilation on two young Minnesota girls who traveled to Michigan with their mothers, the first federal prosecution of what the government describes as "horrifying acts of brutality." Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was arrested after the 7-year-olds identified her as the person who performed procedures on them in February at a clinic in suburban Detroit, according to the FBI. Nagarwala heard the allegations during a brief appearance in US District Court and was returned to jail to await another hearing Monday, the AP reports. Prosecutors want to keep her locked up without bond. Defense attorney Shannon Smith declined to comment to reporters. In a court filing, the FBI said many more girls have told investigators that Nagarwala performed procedures on their genitals.
"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 Kenneth Blanco, acting US assistant attorney general. Female genital mutilation of minors is illegal in the US unless there's a legitimate health reason. The US Attorney's Office in Detroit said it's the first case of its kind to be prosecuted in federal court. The FBI said Nagarwala, 44, is a member of a cultural community that believes in the practice but that she denied performing it when interviewed by agents. She is charged with genital mutilation, making false statements, and other crimes. The World Health Organization says the practice of removing or injuring female genital organs has no known health benefits, but says it has been performed on more than 200 million women and girls in 30 countries.