Though FGM has been banned in Egypt since 2008, UNICEF reports that “medicalization” (FGM performed by a medical professional) 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 and enforcement of the nationwide ban, FGM is commonly accepted and practiced in Egypt.
Soheir's Case: Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Egypt
In June 2013, 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea died after a doctor performed FGM on her at the behest of her father in a clinic in Cairo, Egypt. Soheir’s death tragically highlights FGM as a violation of the human rights of girls and women with serious health risks regardless of performance inside or outside a medical establishment.
In July 2013, Equality Now and our Egyptian partners, the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) and the Egyptian Coalition for Children’s Rights (ECCR) called on the government of Egypt to live up to its domestic and international obligations by:
- Effectively enforcing the FGM ban
- Properly investigating Soheir’s death and prosecuting those responsible
- Ensuring that the doctor who performed FGM on Soheir, Dr. Fadl, is thoroughly investigated and punished for his crimes
- Supporting and enhancing community education to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM
- Acknowledging FGM as a human rights violation with harmful consequences
- Ensuring that health care providers are given comprehensive training on the health and human rights implications of FGM
Soheir’s father and Dr. Fadl were convicted, but the doctor continued to practice medicine. In December 2013, we issued another Action, putting the pressure on Egypt to enforce their conviction. After years of pressure, Dr. Fadl is no longer licensed to practice medicine and was expelled from his job at a hospital. In April 2016, Dr. Fadl turned himself in to the authorities due to mounting pressure. In a major sign of progress, the Egypt Cabinet approved a draft law in August 2016 to increase prison sentences for FGM perpetrators.