Doctor, Dead Girl’s Father Acquitted in Egypt’s First FGM Trial

A doctor being tried on charges of female genital mutilation (FGM) was acquitted on Thursday, ending Egypt’s first trial of its kind, a rights group said.

The father of 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea, who died in June last year after allegedly undergoing FGM at her father’s request in a clinic north of Cairo, was also tried and acquitted.

The court gave no explanation for the verdict, according to media reports.

“It is awful that after what seemed to be g moves towards a positive outcome, Soheir has not been given justice,” said Suad Abu-Dayyeh, a consultant for rights group Equality Now.

“We can only hope that the g commitment by the Egyptian government to finally take FGM seriously will result in further moves in the right direction, and we will now discuss next steps with the local lawyers.”

Dr Raslan Fadl had denied performing FGM on the girl and said he had been treating her for warts.

Neither the family of the dead girl nor the doctor were present in court, according to the British newspaper the Guardian.

“…The lawyer that pushed for the case says there can be no appeal,” Guardian correspondent Patrick Kingsley tweeted after the verdict was announced.

Egypt banned FGM in 2008, but it is still widely practised there, often by doctors operating in secret.

Just over 90 percent of women and girls in Egypt have undergone FGM, which involves cutting a girl’s genitalia in order to reduce sexual desire.

In most countries where FGM is practised, traditional cutters perform the operation. But in Egypt three quarters of girls who have undergone FGM have been cut by a medical professional, usually a doctor, according to the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF.

Campaigners say the move to “medicalise” FGM in countries like Egypt and Indonesia was tantamount to legitimising a grave human rights abuse and is setting back global efforts to end the practice.

“Egypt’s first ever FGM trial was clearly a show. Theatre. They never meant to prosecute the doctor or the father. It was just show,” Egyptian-American activist and writer Mona Eltahawy said on Twitter.

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

Source : Thomson Reuters Foundation