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First female genital mutilation trial held after 13-year-old Egyptian girl killed

First female genital mutilation trial held after 13-year-old Egyptian girl killed
Mutilacao-Genital-Feminina
This photograph was taken by CNN in 1996 and showed a 10-year-old being mutilated at a barbershop in Cairo

By Abeer Salah, Aswat Masriya

An Egyptian court postponed on Thursday the female genital mutilation trial of a doctor who had preformed the surgery on a teenage girl that led to her to death to June 19. 

Sohair al-Bata’a, 13, died in June 2013 at Raslan Halawa’s private medical clinic while undergoing an FGM operation at her father’s request, who is also standing trial.  

“The story unfolded when the victim’s father filed a complaint, accusing the doctor of killing his daughter after performing an FGM operation,” said Mona Amin, the general coordinator of National Population Council’s national project for banning FGM.

This is the first trial of its kind since Egypt banned the practice in 2008. 

Outrage causes investigation

Sohair al-Bata'a, the 13-year-old girl who died after undergoing FGM
Sohair al-Bata’a, the 13-year-old girl who died after undergoing FGM

The investigation was pushed for by the National Population Council (NPC) last November, which demanded establishing a committee of forensic experts to verify the real cause of death, stated Amin.’

During investigation, the father retracted from his initial police report statements accusing the doctor, instead, he claimed his daughter was suffering from pelvic pain, and was diagnosed of having “excess” skin that had to be removed through a doctor.

Halawa has denied carrying out FGM. Instead, he stated that the victim suffered from “excess” skin which he had removed by cauterization. He insisted that she died because of an allergic reaction to the anesthetic medication.

The coroner, assigned by the Public Prosecution, held the doctor responsible for failing to test Bata’a for allergic reactions. However, he reported that medical intervention to remove “excess” skin was “right”.

Based on the results of the investigation, the doctor was charged with wrongful death. He was also charged, along with the father, with performing FGM and referred to trial.

The punishment for performing FGM is a prison sentence ranging from three months to two years or a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds.

At least 91 percent of Egyptian females in the age group 15-49 have undergone FGM, according to the 2008 census. Although doctors now perform 70 percent of these operations, traditional midwives and health barbers usually carried out the practice.

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Aswat Masriya is a Thomson Reuters Foundation-sponsored website that covers Egypt's transition to democracy. en.aswatmasriya.com

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