UN 'deeply concerned' over Egypt FGM acquittal

Ahram Online, Friday 21 Nov 2014

Court on Thursday acquitted defendants charged with carrying out FGM on a girl who later died

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)

The United Nations has expressed its "deep concern" over the acquittal of defendants accused of carrying out FGM on a girl who later died from her injuries, the first trial of its kind in Egypt.

"There is no moral, religious or health reason to cut or mutilate any girl or woman. Traditions that demean, dehumanise and injure are human rights violations that must be actively opposed until they are ended," the UN said in a statement on Thursday.

An Egyptian court dropped charges against a doctor who carried out the circumcision of 14-year-old Soheir El-Bataa, who died in the operation. Charges against the girl’s father were also dropped.

A Misdemeanour Court said on Thursday that the criminal case had "expired" after "reconciliation" with the victim's family, and ruled that the doctor must pay LE5,000 as compensation to the girl’s mother.

The defence team told Ahram Online that they would appeal.

The UN also said it "encourages review of current legislation to ensure that it fully protects the rights of women and girls, and that the perpetrators of such heinous crimes are brought to justice."

FGM was banned in Egypt in 2008, but it is still a common practice among both Muslims and Christians, especially in rural areas.

According to the UN, the Demographic and Health Survey of 2008 shows that at least 91 percent of Egyptian women aged 15 – 49 have undergone female genital mutilation.  

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


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