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Child protection petitions filed for 2 Minn. girls subjected to genital mutilation

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Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he filed the child protection services petition to protect a little girl as well as her older brother.
Matt Sepic | MPR News file

Updated: 4:16 p.m. | Posted: 2:37 p.m.

The Hennepin and Anoka county attorney's offices have filed child protection petitions for two 7-year-old Minnesota girls who were subjected to female genital mutilation in Michigan. 

The Hennepin County petition says that a seven-year-old girl from Plymouth, Minn., was brought to Michigan in February where the illegal procedure was performed on her.

A second case involving the other girl has been filed by the Anoka County attorney, but a spokeswoman said those documents are sealed. 

Following an FBI investigation, federal prosecutors charged Dr. Jumana Nagarwala this week with performing the procedure on the two Minnesota girls. 

The two children traveled to Michigan for the procedure with their families, Hennepin County petition said. 

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the petition was filed to protect the little girl as well as her older brother.    "This is a very difficult situation. This is the kind of conduct that should not be imposed on little kids," he said. "The parents, simply, should know better."

The girl has been removed from her house while her brother remains with the family.

Freeman said the Plymouth police department is investigating whether the parents have violated state laws as well.

The petition includes a summary of the FBI's interview of the little girl earlier this week. She detailed the procedure for investigators, and said she was told by her mother to keep their trip to see Nagarwala a secret. 

Fartun Weli is the executive director of Isuroon, a Minneapolis-based organization that provides health education to Somali women. She said her organization does a lot of work educating Somali women who were subject to female genital mutiliation before they arrived in the United States.   "We talk to many Somali women, young and old, and all of them said that they would never do it to their daughters," Weli said.

It's unclear which community the two little girls came from, Weli said, and that the practice is common in other cultures as well.    "But it doesn't really matter where they came from. To us, this is very shocking," she said.

The doctor charged with performing the procedure was trained at Johns Hopkins medical school in Baltimore. The complaint says Nagarwala is an emergency room physician at a hospital in Detroit, and was performing the procedures out of a medical office in Livonia, Michigan, although she's not employed there. 

Authorities say that this is the first case brought under a federal statute that criminalizes female genital mutilation. Nagarwala is scheduled for another court appearance Monday.