LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An Egyptian doctor has been convicted of manslaughter after a 13-year-old girl died in a botched female genital mutilation procedure, campaigners said on Monday following the country’s first FGM trial.
Equality Now called the ruling a “monumental victory” for women and girls in a country which has one of the world’s highest prevalence rates of FGM.
Dr Raslan Fadl was originally cleared of charges relating to the death of Soheir al-Batea but prosecutors appealed the verdict which was overturned on Monday, Equality Now said.
Fadl was sentenced by a court in Mansoura to two years in jail for manslaughter and three months for performing FGM, according to the group. His clinic was also ordered to close for a year.
“It is fantastic news that Soheir has finally been given justice,” said Suad Abu-Dayyeh, Equality Now’s Middle East and North Africa consultant.
“The country has shown that it will implement its laws and we hope that this is the first step towards ending this extreme form of violence against women once and for all.”
Al-Batea died in June 2013 after undergoing FGM in a clinic north of Cairo, at her father’s request.
Her father was also convicted on appeal and given a three-month suspended sentence, Equality Now said.
Fadl, who had denied performing FGM on the girl, said he had been treating her for warts.
Over 90 percent of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 in Egypt have undergone FGM, according to U.N. estimates.
FGM, which is found across a swathe of African countries, is commonly carried out by traditional cutters, but in Egypt three quarters of FGM procedures are done by medical professionals, according to the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF.
Campaigners say the move to “medicalise” FGM in countries like Egypt and Indonesia is tantamount to legitimizing a grave human rights abuse and is setting back global efforts to end the practice.
No response was received from emails and telephone calls to the Justice Ministry.
Editing by Ros Russell