MN Women Indicted in FGM Case

FGM, cutting
Image Credit: Plan International

DETROIT — The Minnesota mothers who consented for their daughters to have the female genital mutilation (FGM) procedure have been indicted by federal prosecutors.

Haseena Halfal and Zainab Hariyanawala have been charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of female genital mutilation of a person under 18-years-old.

Court documents recently unsealed now implicate eight individuals in the federal trial.

The women have been identified as the mothers of two seven-year-old girls who are part of a federal investigation into a Detroit-area doctor’s office that allegedly performs FGM procedures on young girls after hours.

As Alpha News reported in April, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, of Detroit, was charged by the Department of Justice for practicing the illegal procedure.

Court documents detail testimony from medical doctors who performed examinations of the two girls and determined that parts of one girl’s genitalia was removed, while another had a small tear, with both having scarring and lacerations.

It is estimated that up to 100 young girls received the procedure from Nargarwala’s clinic over a 12-year period.

Female Genital Mutilation, also referred to a circumcision of female genitalia, is a popular tradition in eastern cultures.

As reported by Alpha News, data from 2013 suggests Minnesota has the third largest at-risk population in the country with more than 44,000 women at-risk, with more than 17,000 being girls under the age of 18.

Despite the large at-risk population in Minnesota and the country, neither the CDC or the Minnesota Department of Health keeps state specific data on female genital mutilation.

In Minnesota, the fight to strengthen current laws on FGM is a slow process. Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) sponsored legislation adding and enhancing criminal charges to current FGM laws. Parents would face felony charges and medical practitioners would face enhanced penalties.

However, the bill was stalled as members of the Republican-controlled Senate refused to take the bill up during the last legislative cycle.

The state of Michigan quickly enhanced its penalties following the news and President Donald Trump’s administration is looking at ways to educate those entering the country against the practice of FGM in the United States.

Preya Samsundar

Preya Samsundar was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities this Spring with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Strategic Communications. Preya has previously worked on several State Campaign Races.