Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, the Indian Muslim doctor who is accused of performing female genital mutilations out of her office in the Detroit area, was denied bail by a judge, meaning that she will remain in jail as her trial proceeds. Meanwhile, her lawyer has claimed that Nagarwala was performing a “Religious Ritual” and that the girls in question were not cut The medical examiner who examined the young alleged victims disagreed and noted that the labia of one had been removed and a small tear existed on a second girl.

Female Genital Mutilation is a particularly barbaric practice performed in a number of developing world countries designed to remove the clitoris and otherwise alter the vaginas of young girls so that they are no longer able to feel sexual pleasure.

The theory is that in Islamic culture if women cannot enjoy sex they will be less likely to shame their families by engaging in it outside of marriage.

The procedure was made illegal in the United States in the late 1990s when a then second term senator named Harry Reid watched a video of the procedure being performed and was so horrified that he immediately worked to prohibit it in America. The Nagarwala case is the first instance in which someone is being prosecuted under the law.

The judge ordered Nagarwala to remain in jail because she represents a danger to the community. It is possible that she is also being kept confined for her own protection, so heinous the crime that she has been accused of.

Her lawyer is offering the defense that Nagarwala was performing a harmless religious ritual. He tried to explain away the physical trauma inflicted on the girls by suggesting that they had scratched themselves. The legal gambit is a long shot since the freedom of religion defense doesn’t enter into what amounts to a physical assault, and the explanation of the physical evidence is likely to be debunked by the state’s medical experts during the trial.

Dr. Nagarwala belongs to a particular Islamic sect called Dawoodi Bohra that is centered in a region in India and has a single mosque in Michigan. The sect holds itself apart from mainstream Islam and has endorsed the ritual of female genital mutilation as a rite of passage for young girls into adulthood. Members of the sect were prosecuted in Australia recently for performing FMGs and were sentenced to prison as a result.

Nagarwala is thought to have performed the procedure on numerous young girls for the past ten years. The trial is likely to lay bare a particularly barbaric practice that is recognized as a human rights violation worldwide happening in the United States.

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