But the judge wasn't convinced and locked her up.
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.
But it wasn't just the government's words that did the doctor in.
Nagarwala denied cutting the girls, insisting she performed a religious procedure that involved removing mucous membrane from the girls' genitalia so their family members could bury the material in the ground.
"All of the acts that my client performed on children" did not involve female genital mutilation, said Smith, arguing that "the issue of female genital mutilation presents vagueness". 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. The parents said they had taken their girls for a "cleansing of extra skin", according to the criminal complaint. What about those conclusions, she asked the defense.
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. She then "got a shot", and allegedly screamed. Minnesota has a state law against FGM and MI doesn't.
Dr. Nagarwala appeared emotionless throughout the hearing and as a judge ordered that she be detained without bond until further notice. Smith said Dr. Nagarwala performed the procedures as part of a religious ceremony.
"She knew that this was illegal but did it anyway", Woodward said, stressing: "As a medical doctor, she is aware that female genital mutilation has no medical objective".
If convicted, Nagarwala faces 10 years to life in prison.
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During one interview, the first little girl revealed that both children traveled to MI under the premise of a "special" girls' trip.
Nagarwala is part of the Dawoodi Bohra community, an Islamic sect originally from India that has a mosque in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Nagarwala, who received her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, has been licensed as a physician in MI since 2001; state records show no formal complaints or disciplinary action against her. Her bio lists the languages she speaks as English and Gujarati, spoken by the Gujaratis, who hail from the western India state of Gujarat.
"We are shocked by the allegations", Henry Ford Health System spokesman David Olejarz said in statement, stressing: "The alleged criminal activity did not occur at any Henry Ford facility".
According to prosecutors, Nagarwala was arrested Thursday while boarding an global flight to Kenya, where she was going to visit a daughter. The government conceded that this trip was planned in advance.
According to a medical doctor who later examined her, the girl's "genitals are not normal" due to either adjustment or removal and showed "scar tissue" as well as "small healing lacerations".
According to court documents, the girls thought they were in MI for a "special" girls trip, but instead ended up in the Livonia clinic, where Nagarwala allegedly mutilated their genitals as part of a cultural and religious practice. Nagarwala used the clinic for these purposes about five or six times a year, on some occasions multiple children showed up, investigators were told. One of the girls told an investigator that she left one of her winter gloves at the clinic. She asked Nagarwala for advice on what she should say.
The affidavit also alleges that there are MI victims as well. The doctor has immediately been placed on administrative leave. We would never support or condone anything related to this practice.
The judge concluded she was a danger to the community and a flight risk after hearing arguments from both sides.
Congress passed a law in 1996 making it illegal to perform genital mutilation or cutting in the United States on anyone under 18 years.