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)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Egyptian government to take "clear action to end the practice of female gentile mutilation."
The New York-based rights group issued a statement on Thursday after a court acquitted a father and a doctor accused of performing a female circumcision operation that killed a teenage girl in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura last year.
It was the first time Egyptian courts have looked into an FGM case, a practice that was officially banned in 2008.
The statement stressed that Egypt was required under international human rights treaties to hold accountable those who practice violence against women, including FGM.
“Female genital mutilation is banned in Egypt but the practice continues, possibly because there is a lack of investigations, prosecutions, and convictions,” Rothna Begum, a researcher on women's rights in the Middle East and North Africa told HRW.
The statement said the Egyptian authorities need to ensure that the law criminalising FGM is enacted.
"Egyptian authorities need to take steps to ensure effective implementation of the law criminalising the harmful procedure by ensuring that there is adequate investigation and prosecution of those who carry out the FGM procedure," the statement read.
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.
Egypt`s Grand Mufti issued a religious edict in 2007 forbidding FGM in Islam.