A Detroit-area doctor charged with mutilating the genitals of young girls in violation of federal law walked out of jail Tuesday a free woman as her lawyer was able to arrange the largest unsecured-bond in the jurisdiction’s history.
Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, a member of a Shia Muslim sect that practices a form of female genital cutting, posted a $4.5 million unsecured bond after some 15 friends and family members put their homes and other assets on the line. If she flees, they lose their property.
Most of those who pledged their assets are believed to be fellow members of the Dawoodi Bohra, a Western India-based sect within the Ishmaelite community of Shia Muslims.
There are 22 Dawoodi Bohra mosques across the United States [see list at end of this story].
The names of those who pledged to pay the $4.5 million bond were sealed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford.
Nagarwala smiled at friends and relatives in the courtroom Tuesday, including her father and her husband, Moiz Nagarwala, the Detroit News reported.
Nagarwala has been jailed since April after prosecutors say two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota were cut at Nagarwala’s clinic in Livonia.
The prosecution considers Nagarwala a flight risk because she has wealth and was arrested at the international terminal of the Detroit Airport.
Federal investigators believe Nagarwala may have “cut” upwards of 100 young girls over 12 years, most of them brought to her by a parent or other family member within the Shia sect.
The investigations have spread from Michigan and Minnesota to include New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
“This is a 12-year conspiracy of abuse,” said Elizabeth Yore, a lawyer and international children’s advocate who started the #EndFGMToday movement.
Dr. Nagarwala will not be allowed to live at home but will be placed in an unidentified hotel under the supervision of her father between now and her June trial. She faces up to life in prison if convicted.
“If this was a male suspected predator without a medical degree, I would think there would not be any question: He would not be released from jail on a GPS tether and given supervised visitation with his children,” Yore said.
“You have 22 Dawoodi Bohra mosques around the U.S. This is important because in this Shia Muslim cult it is mandated that females are subjected to this ‘ritual’ of female genital mutilation, and I think it’s instructive that up to 17 people around the country are putting up their homes and property for this doctor,” Yore said.
Only a ‘nick’, says defense attorney
Whether Nagarwala and seven other defendants are ultimately convicted in the Detroit FGM case may come down to which expert testimonies are more convincing to a jury. Both sides will undoubtedly bring forth experts to explain exactly what type of procedure the girls were subjected to.
Nagarwala’s attorney, Shannon Smith, specializes in defending people against sex-crime charges. She told WND Tuesday that her client did not “mutilate” any girl’s genitals, but rather “nicked the outer foreskin, not the clitoris or labia,” as part of her sect’s ancient religious custom.
“I can appreciate that some people would still be against the nick to the foreskin,” said Smith, a self-described feminist, in an email to WND. “I do want to point out, however, that the nick only amounts to Type 4 under the World Health Organization and is not prohibited by law.”
She said this “nick” was deemed OK by a hospital in Seattle that attempted to do it for Somali Muslim immigrants – the so-called Seattle Compromise put out by a group of multiculturalist medical professionals – and the American Academy of Pediatrics at one time released a paper supporting doing the nick in a safe way.
“Because of the pushback from the advocacy groups (and people quite frankly who over-sensationalize the topic like Ms. Yore), the hospital that was going to do the procedure chose not to and the AAP retracted their position paper,” Smith told WND.
“There is such a range when it comes to genital cutting that it is very unfair to classify all of it under the term ‘mutilation,'” she continued. “Everyone involved in this case, including my client, is against ‘mutilation.’
“Further, the nick to the foreskin removes far less than what is removed during a male circumcision which has been an accepted religious tradition for centuries. Although we tend to be egocentric and many people in the U.S. are not familiar with the thought of female circumcision or nicking the foreskin … that does not make it wrong.
“The bottom line is that female genital mutilation is not accepted (nor should it be), it’s not religious, it causes injury, it’s harmful and there are many bad side effects. The nick of the foreskin, on the other hand, is based on religious beliefs, more symbolic than anything else, causes no injury, no harm and there are zero side effects.”
Yore said the procedure is barbaric, painful, and has no place in America – no matter what the multiculturalists wish to call it.
“That’s what defense lawyers do. We saw this linguistic game played in the pro-life realm. It’s not a baby being killed, it’s a fetus being terminated. Likewise, it’s not a mutilation but a mere scraping, a mere nicking, we’ve even heard it called a ‘wiping.’ It’s the lies to defeat us, using nuanced language. If you read the forensic description in the criminal complaint it certainly was not a nicking, scraping or wiping. But Shannon is going to soft-pedal what this is. She can’t silence the truth.”
Tuesday’s scheduled hearing on a motion by Smith to dismiss one of the charges having to do with sexual assault, has been postponed till Dec. 4.
“They’re going to fight every step of the way,” Yore said. “She says I am sensationalizing it. I call what she is doing, linguistic lies.”
The 22 Dawoodi Bohra mosques are in the following U.S. cities:
Detroit Masjid Jamaat
Los Angeles Jamaat
New York City Jamaat
San Antonio Jamaat
San Diego Jamaat
San Francisco Jamaat
San Jose Jamaat
Tampa Markaz Jamaat
Washington DC Jamaat
New Jersey State Jamaat
Orange County Markaz (california) Jamaat
South Jersey Jamaat