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Egypt court acquits FGM doctor

November 20, 2014

The doctor who carried out a female circumcision operation which killed a teenager has been acquitted by an Egyptian court, despite a national ban on the still-widespread practice. The girl's father was also acquitted.

In this Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014 photo, relatives of 13-year-old Sohair el-Batea who died undergoing the procedure of female genital mutilation performed by Dr. Raslan Fadl, walk in front of her home, in Dierb Biqtaris village, on the outskirts of the town of Aga in Dakahliya, 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Cairo, Egypt.
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo

A court in the Nile Delta province of Dakahliya on Thursday acquitted the doctor, Raslan Fadl, in Egypt's first ever trial on charges of breaking the country's 2008 ban on female genital mutilation (FGM).

According to news agency reports, he had faced charges including manslaughter, negligence, endangering the child's life and performing FGM. The girl's father, who had taken her to the doctor for the operation, was also acquitted for complicity in defying the ban.

While no immediate explanation was available for the verdict, DW correspondent Khalid El Kaoutit said that the court made reference to a reconciliation agreement with the girl's family. Although the doctor was acquitted, he was ordered to pay 5000 Egyptian points (550 euros, $700) to the girl's mother, as well as court and lawyer costs.

Sohair el-Batea died in June 2013 at the age of 13 after undergoing the surgery at a clinic in Dakahliya.

Sohair el-Batea
Sohair el-Batea's father took her to the operationImage: picture alliance/AP Photo

FGM widespread in Egypt

Activists who oppose the practice had been hoping for a conviction and a tough sentence, in order to put people off it.

One of the lawyers involved in the case, Mustafa Hamadi, told DW correspondent Khalid El Kaoutit that the acquittals were a bad signal - one that would fail to discourage other doctors who performed such surgeries, and families who wanted their daughters to have them.

Egypt has one of the highest rates of female genital mutilation in the world, with more than 90 percent of women estimated to have undergone the procedure.

The removal of parts or all of the external female genitalia is done in the name of promoting women's chastity, but can have many ill effects including psychological damage and serious complications in childbirth.

se/msh (dpa, AFP, AP)