RELIGION

Doctor's arrest brings attention to US female circumcisions

  • In this December 2015 photo provided by her, Zehra Patwa poses for a picture at her home in New Haven, Conn. Patwa learned a few years ago that at 7 years old, she was taken from her home in England to India for a wedding, and was circumcised in a procedure widely known as female genital mutilation. She doesn't remember, but was no less outraged. Patwa, 46, now lives in the U.S. and campaigns against the practice performed among certain cultures of different faiths and widely within her community called the Dawoodi Bohra, a small, prosperous Shiite Muslim sect of more than a million people based in India with a global presence. (Courtesy of Zehra Patwa via AP)

    In this December 2015 photo provided by her, Zehra Patwa poses for a picture at her home in New Haven, Conn. Patwa learned a few years ago that at 7 years old, she was taken from her home in England to India for a wedding, and was circumcised in a procedure widely known as female genital mutilation. She doesn't remember, but was no less outraged. Patwa, 46, now lives in the U.S. and campaigns against the practice performed among certain cultures of different faiths and widely within her community called the Dawoodi Bohra, a small, prosperous Shiite Muslim sect of more than a million people based in India with a global presence. (Courtesy of Zehra Patwa via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Sept 30, 2013, photo provided by Mel and Tim Photography, Zehra Patwa poses for a picture, in Atlanta. Zehra Patwa learned a few years ago that at 7 years old, she was taken from her home in England to India for a wedding, and was circumcised in a procedure widely known as female genital mutilation. She doesn't remember, but was no less outraged. Patwa, 46, now lives in the U.S. and campaigns against the practice performed among certain cultures of different faiths and widely within her community called the Dawoodi Bohra, a small, prosperous Shiite Muslim sect of more than a million people based in India with a global presence. (Mel and Tim Photography via AP)

    In this Sept 30, 2013, photo provided by Mel and Tim Photography, Zehra Patwa poses for a picture, in Atlanta. Zehra Patwa learned a few years ago that at 7 years old, she was taken from her home in England to India for a wedding, and was circumcised in a procedure widely known as female genital mutilation. She doesn't remember, but was no less outraged. Patwa, 46, now lives in the U.S. and campaigns against the practice performed among certain cultures of different faiths and widely within her community called the Dawoodi Bohra, a small, prosperous Shiite Muslim sect of more than a million people based in India with a global presence. (Mel and Tim Photography via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The case against a Michigan doctor accused of circumcising two 7-year-old girls highlights how the practice is alive and well in parts of the Western world where its adherents have migrated and formed communities.

The practice that is common for girls in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East is also called female genital mutilation or cutting and has been condemned by the United Nations and outlawed in the U.S.

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala is accused of performing the procedure on two Minnesota girls from her Shiite Muslim sect, the Dawoodi Bohra. Her lawyer says Nagarwala conducted a benign religious ritual that involved no mutilation.

Zehra Patwa, a 46-year-old Bohra from Connecticut who campaigns against the centuries-old practice, says she only learned in recent years that it was done to her at age 7 during a family trip to India.