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Justice for Egyptian girls! Stop the medicalization of FGM

12 June 2017 UPDATE: Reportedly, Egypt's Ministry of Health plans to launch an awareness campaign on the negative effects of FGM targeted at medical professionals. We hope to use this to reinforce our call on the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal to the Cassation court to reverse the decision in Mayar's case. Please continue to put pressure on the government to act. Thank you!

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.

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

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

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

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