Flowers left by the tomb of Soheir al­Batea. Photo credit: Tom Dale/Equality Now

Egypt: Enforce FGM law & properly investigate Soheir al-Batea’s death

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Date: 
10 Dec 2013
Update: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

20 NOVEMBER 2014: Unfortunately a verdict was reached today, which acquitted both the doctor and father despite overwhelming evidence that FGM had occurred. The General Prosecutor submitted a request to appeal the court's verdict. If successful, three judges will revisit the verdict. Our partners in the Center for Egyptian Women's Legal Assistance are hopeful that information on when the session might take place will be available soon. Please stay tuned for a renewed call to action from Equality Now and our partners.


17 NOVEMBER 2014 UPDATE: The verdict in the case is expected 20 November. Please check back for updates.


29 SEPTEMBER 2014 UPDATE: Due to last minute delay tactics by the defense, a verdict wasn't rendered in the trial on the 25th. Instead a decision on how the case will proceed will be made on 23 October. Please check back then for updates.


11 SEPTEMBER 2014 UPDATE: The trial to obtain justice for Soheir resumed today with only one of the three witnesses called to provide evidence—the Inspector from the Ministry of Health—in attendance. He gave a strong account and confirmed that Soheir had been subjected to FGM. Since the other witnesses, Soheir's uncle and the medical examiner, did not appear as requested, the judge dismissed their testimonies. The verdict is extremely likely to be rendered on 25 September.


30 JULY 2014 UPDATE: Lawyers from CEWLA and the National Population Council, and Equality Now’s Suad Abu-Dayyeh attended the 10 July session, during which the judge requested further testimony from the medical examiner, the Inspector of the Ministry of Health and Soheir’s uncle. The trial will resume on 11 September.


20 JUNE 2014 UPDATE: During the 19 June court session, the Attorney General presented a strong statement upholding that Soheir's father and Dr. Fadl had illegally subjected Soheir to FGM. The trial has been adjourned until 10 July when a decision is expected to be rendered. Please check back in July for updates.


22 May 2014 Update: The trial to obtain justice for Soheir has begun! Today marked the first day of court proceedings and, as expected, the judge adjourned the case until 19 June. Equality Now’s Middle East/North Africa consultant, Suad Abu-Dayyeh, and representatives from our partner, the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), attended the session and press conference that preceded it. We are closely following the court proceedings, and will continue to update you as it progresses.


13 MARCH 2014 Update: Justice—Soheir’s abusers will stand trial!

Following the investigation by the Attorney General, Dr. Fadl and Soheir’s father will face criminal charges for subjecting her to FGM and her subsequent death. This is the first prosecution for FGM in Egypt since it was banned in 2008, and it wouldn’t have been possible without your help! The Attorney General has stated that it was due to the concern and attention of both governmental and international organizations that his office decided to refer the case to the criminal court. Equality Now and our partners in Egypt welcome this positive step and will continue to monitor the court proceedings to make sure that those responsible for Soheir’s mutilation and death are held accountable.

Thank you for your supporting our efforts to end FGM!


5 FEBRUARY 2014 UPDATE: Great News! Our combined efforts to obtain justice for 13-year-old Soheir, who died in 2013 after being subjected to FGM, are working. On 5 February 2014, Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population informed Equality Now that its committee reviewed Soheir’s death and decided that Dr. Fadl’s clinic will be closed pending further investigation by the Attorney General. The Egyptian Medical Syndicate will also conduct a professional ethics investigation into Dr. Fadl’s actions.

Equality Now will continue to work with our local Egyptian partners to monitor these investigations to ensure that they are properly conducted and that those responsible for Soheir's mutilation and death are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As medicalization of FGM is on the rise in Egypt, please continue to keep up the pressure on officials to effectively enforce Egypt’s anti-FGM law and fully prosecute all violations.

Thank you for your support and continued advocacy. We will continue to update you as Soheir’s case develops.


 

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Equality Now’s Suad Abu-Dayyeh at the home of Soheir al-Batea

Equality Now’s Suad Abu-Dayyeh at the home of Soheir al-Batea

In July 2013 Equality Now issued Action 38.3 calling for enforcement of the anti-FGM law and justice in the case of 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea who died after Dr. Raslan Fadl allegedly performed female genital mutilation (FGM) on her at her father’s request in a clinic north-east of Cairo. Dr. Fadl was interrogated by prosecutors and released on bail pending investigation. After traveling to Soheir’s village in November to follow up on the case, Equality Now is concerned that the investigation is being sidelined by the authorities.

The long-delayed forensic report lists Soheir’s cause of death as an allergic reaction to penicillin and makes no mention of FGM, despite her father’s initial statement to the police that she had been brought to the clinic to be subjected to the procedure. We also understand that Dr. Fadl paid Soheir’s family 50,000 Egyptian Pounds ($7,257 USD) and they no longer want to pursue the case. Furthermore, Soheir’s father has changed his statement to match Dr. Fadl’s statement that Soheir suffered from genital warts and the family brought her to the doctor to treat them. Meanwhile, Dr Fadl continues to practice in his clinic and reportedly performs FGM procedures daily in clear violation of the law banning the practice.

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

While in Egypt, Equality Now staff heard reports of another girl who died from FGM, but upon further investigation, we were told by Police that they had received no such report. We are concerned that this case and others like Soheir’s are occurring but not being properly investigated.

FGM has been a criminal offence under the Egyptian penal code since 2008. Despite this ban, UNICEF reports that medicalization is on the rise in Egypt with an estimated 72% of procedures being performed by doctors in private clinics. Without strong messages from the government, such as proper implementation of the law and swift punishment for the perpetrators, FGM may become more acceptable in Egypt, with women’s rights increasingly taking a back seat at all levels.

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please join Equality Now and our Egyptian partners, the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) and the Egyptian Coalition for Children’s Rights (ECCR) in calling on the government of Egypt to live up to its domestic and international obligations by:

  • Effectively enforcing its FGM law by properly investigating and fully prosecuting violations and in particular ensuring that Soheir’s death is properly investigated including by arranging for medical experts to review the forensic report
  • Ensuring that Dr. Fadl is thoroughly investigated and held accountable for all crimes he is found to have committed
  • Supporting and enhancing community education to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM and acknowledging FGM as a human rights violation with harmful consequences
  • Ensuring that health care providers are given comprehensive education and training on the health and human rights implications of FGM and refrain from performing any form of the practice

Letters should go to:

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
El Etahadiya  Presidential Palace
Merghiny St., Heliopolis, Cairo, EGYPT
Fax & Tel.: +202 239 019 980

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb
Magless El Shaàb Street, Al Kasr El Einy, Cairo, EGYPT
Tel.: +202 2793 5000
Fax: +202 2795 8048
Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg

Minister of Justice Mr. Nayer Adel-Monei Othman
Lazoghly Square, Cairo, EGYPT
Tel.: +202 279 22263
Fax: +202 279 58103
Email: mjustice@moj.gov.eg

Minister of Health & Population Adel El-Adawi
3 Magless El Shaàb Street, Al Kasr El Einy, Cairo, EGYPT
Tel.: +202 2795 1821
Fax: + 202 2795 3966
Email: webmaster@mohp.gov.eg

Attorney General Mr. Hisham Barakat
Attorney General's Office
High Court, 26th of July Street Ambulance Square, Cairo, EGYPT
Tel.: +202 2574 3751-2576 0468
Fax: +202 2577 4716

Letters: 

Dear President/Prime Minister/Minister/Attorney General,

I welcome the decision by the Attorney General to refer Dr. Raslan Fadl and the father of Soheir al-Batea, the 13-year-old who died in June 2013 after Dr. Fadl performed female genital mutilation (FGM) on her, to the criminal court. I believe that this is an important step towards the implementation of the 2008 FGM law and further gives a signal to families and doctors who violate the law that they will be prosecuted and punished.

However, I am concerned about reports that Dr. Fadl appears to still be practicing medicine despite the closure of his clinic by the Ministry of Health during the Attorney General's investigation. I believe that this is a clear violation of the decision of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Health, and I hope that the Attorney General will urgently investigate this matter to prevent any possibility of FGM being performed by Dr. Fadl.

FGM has been a criminal offense under the Egyptian penal code since 2008. Despite this ban, UNICEF reports that medicalization is on the rise in Egypt with an estimated 72% of procedures being performed by doctors in private clinics. Without strong messages from the government, such as proper implementation of the law and swift punishment for the perpetrators, FGM may become more acceptable in Egypt, with women’s rights increasingly taking a back seat at all levels.

The steps you have taken in this case are therefore critical, and I urge you to ensure that Egypt lives up to its domestic and international obligations by also:

  • Supporting and enhancing community education to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM and acknowledging FGM as a human rights violation with harmful consequences
  • Ensuring that health care providers are given comprehensive education and training on the health and human rights implications of FGM and refrain from performing any form of the practice

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,