In the News

11 June 2013

UN Agencies Encourage Enforcement of FGM/C Ban After Girl’s Death

A counsellor in Egypt holds up cards used to educate women about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Minia in this photo from 2006. REUTERS

LONDON  — U.N. agencies have called for the prosecution of an Egyptian doctor after a 13-year-old girl died while undergoing female genital mutilation/cutting at a private clinic.

Egypt banned FGM/C  in 2008 but it is still widely practised there, sometimes by traditional cutters but also by medical staff operating in secret.

International campaigners against FGM said the case highlighted the dangers of 'medicalising' FGM/C  – a trend seen in several countries that they say is setting back global efforts to eradicate the ancient ritual.

The girl, identified as Soheir al-Batea, died on Thursday evening in a village in the Daqahliya governorate northeast of Cairo, according to reports on Monday on the Egypt Independent and Gulf News websites.

FGM/C , which is practised by both Muslims and Christians in Egypt, is a cultural ritual that entails cutting a girl's genitalia in order to reduce sexual desire. Many believe it is a religious duty, but it is not mentioned in either the Koran or the Bible.

Doctors and nurses in Egypt were banned from performing FGM in 2007 after a 12-year-old girl died from an anaesthetic overdose while undergoing the procedure.

Egypt outlawed the practice the following year with penalties ranging from three months to two years in prison and fines of up to 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($715).

In a joint statement, the U.N. Children's Fund UNICEF and the U.N Population Fund (UNFPA), which promotes reproductive health, called on Egypt to enforce the law against FGM and urged a full investigation into Sohair's death, which they said was "another sad illustration of the terrible consequences that female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) has on the girl child".

Read the full story by Emma Batha as reported and published by Thomson Reuters Foundation.



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