Doctor and father acquitted in Egypt's first FGM trial

Ahram Online , Thursday 20 Nov 2014

Defence team says it will appeal the ruling

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

An Egyptian court on Thursday acquitted a father and a doctor over performing a female circumcision operation that killed a teenage girl in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura last year.

This was the first time Egyptian courts have looked into an FGM case, a practice that was officially banned in 2008.

Reda El-Danbouki, a rights lawyer in Mansoura, told Ahram Online that the defence team will appeal the ruling.

Aga misdemeanour court said the criminal case had "expired" after "reconciliation," and ruled that the doctor must pay LE5,000 as compensation to the mother, who is the plaintiff.

However, the court acquitted the defendants of all other accusations, including performing female circumcision, exposing the child to danger and forcing the child to undergo the operation. It also acquitted the doctor of operating an unfit medical facility.

The court rejected cases filed by the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood and the National Population Council.

Details on how the court arrived at its decision have not yet been released.

El-Danbouki said he was "surprised" at the court's decision, saying "evidence" against the defendants was very clear.

Soheir El-Bataa, 14, died while the doctor performed the operation on her in June 2013.

El-Danbouki said court issued the ruling in absentia for the father. The doctor, meanwhile, had a lawyer attending on his behalf.

Although banned, female genital mutilation is still rampant in Egypt, among both Muslims and Christians, especially in rural areas where many believe it is part of their faith.

The operation involves the removal of the clitoris and sometimes even more extreme mutilation, which proponents argue "purifies" women from sexual temptation.

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