Doctor denies genital mutilation; judge keeps her locked up

By ED WHITE
Associated Press
DETROIT — A Detroit-area doctor charged with performing genital mutilation on two 7-year-old girls denied the allegations through her lawyer Monday, insisting that she conducted a benign religious ritual for families of a Muslim sect.
Shannon Smith’s defense of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala contradicted the government’s position that the Minnesota girls were forced to undergo a painful, bloody procedure at a Michigan clinic that left them with scars and lacerations on their genitals. It’s the first time someone has been charged with violating a U.S. ban on genital mutilation.
Smith’s explanation emerged during a hearing to determine whether Nagarwala would stay locked up without bond, following her arrest last week. After hearing arguments, a judge said she was a threat to the public and refused to release her.
“They were the last in a long line of children cut by the defendant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward said of the two girls who were accompanied to the Livonia clinic by their mothers.
Smith said it is Nagarwala’s “absolute position” that she didn’t mutilate genitals as alleged by the government or even cause bleeding. She said mucous was removed from the girls in February, and the gauze was given to the family for burial.
Nagarwala is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra community, a Muslim sect concentrated mostly in India, Smith said. Federal investigators have said the families of the Minnesota girls also belong to the sect.
The Bohras are an affluent community of about one million people concentrated mostly in Mumbai, India, but also seen across the U.S. and Europe. Within the sect, the practice of female circumcision remains a divisive issue, although supporters defend the ritual.
Smith partly blamed the allegations against Nagarwala on a “political divide” within the group’s mosque in Oakland County.