Detroit, Michigan physician Jumana Nagarwala, who has been charged with performing genital mutilation on a number of young girls, was released on $4.5 million unsecured bond Nov. 21 after seven months in jail.
The Detroit News reported that Nagarwala’s bail is the largest-ever unsecured bond in Detroit federal court history. Friends of the 44-year-old Indian American doctor, who formerly practiced at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, promised U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford that they would pay the bail if Nagarwala attempts to flee (see previous India-West story here).
An unsecured bond is not backed by any collateral, but is a written agreement that the full fixed sum must be paid if the defendant does not appear in court or violates any other conditions of her release.
Nagarwala will go to trial in June 2018, in the first U.S. case nationwide involving female genital mutilation. Until then, she must wear leg shackles which are hooked up to a GPS monitor to track her movements. The Detroit News reported that the physician will live at an undisclosed hotel with her father, who must watch her 24 hours a day.
Nagarwala is barred from having contact with witnesses or victims in the case. She cannot live at home, and can only see her two young children during supervised visits.
“She’s obviously really happy to be getting out, especially right before Thanksgiving,” her lawyer Shannon Smith told The Detroit News. “This will be easier to prepare for trial.”
Her release came despite federal prosecutors calling Nagarwala a danger to the community and a flight risk with ties to Africa and India and access to $2.4 million in assets that could bankroll a prolonged flight from justice. Prosecutors previously emphasized that Nagarwala was arrested in April while trying to board a flight to Kenya for a prearranged visit with two of her four children who study abroad.
Nagarwala is among eight people charged in a case alleging a 12-year conspiracy that involved cutting prepubescent girls as part of a procedure practiced by some members of a small Muslim sect from India, the Dawoodi Bohra. Locally, most members of the sect belong to the Anjuman-e-Najmi mosque in Farmington Hills.
Prosecutors estimate up to 100 girls were cut during the 12-year conspiracy.
Some members of the Dawoodi Bohra community told prosecutors that genital mutilation is performed to suppress female sexuality, reduce sexual pleasure and curb promiscuity, according to court records. The procedure has no health benefits, according to the World Health Organization.
Nagarwala was freed two weeks ahead of a court hearing during which her lawyers will try to convince U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to dismiss the most severe charge, a sex count punishable by up to life in federal prison, reported The Detroit News.