Rights groups decry death of 13-year-old Egyptian FGM victim

Ahram Online, Monday 10 Jun 2013

UN organisations, National Council for Women condemn death of 13-year-old Sohair El-Batea who succumbed to injuries Thursday following FGM procedure

 Egyptian FGM victim
File photo: A counselor holds up cards used to educate women about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Upper Egypt- Minya (Photo: Reuters).

Thirteen-year-old Sohair El-Batea died in the Nile Delta's Daqahliya governorate on Thursday after being subject to female circumcision, UNICEF, UNFPA and the Egyptian National Council for Women reported in statements issued shortly after the girl's death.

El-Batea was rushed to the hospital – where she died – immediately after the operation, according to English-language news website Aswat Masriya. Her death was reportedly attributed to a severe drop in blood pressure.

"The latest tragic death of Sohair El-Batea, 13, is another sad illustration of the terrible consequences that Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) has on the girl child," according to a joint UNICEF/UNFPA statement issued Monday.

The statement went on to urge the Egyptian authorities to crack down on the practice, which, the organisations argued, has no religious or medical justification. The two UN organisations also demanded that those responsible for El-Batea’s death be held accountable.

"UNICEF and UNFPA in Egypt look forward to the results of the full investigation of the death of Sohair and to the prosecution of those responsible for the loss of this innocent life," the statement asserted.

Egypt's National Council for Women also released a statement on Sunday demanding a prompt investigation of "this criminal act that... violates the values of the three divine faiths, all of which uphold the sanctity of the body."

FGM was legally banned in Egypt by a 2008 law protecting children's rights. Penalties for engaging in the practice range from three months to two years in prison and fines of up to LE5000.

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