Court sentences doctor to 2 years' hard labour for FGM charges

Monday 26-01-2015 07:10 PM
Court sentences doctor to 2 years' hard labour for FGM charges

A counsellor in Egypt holds up cards used to educate women about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Minia in this photo from 2006. REUTERS


CAIRO, Jan 26 (Aswat Masriya) - A Mansoura Court sentenced on Monday a doctor charged with performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on a teenage girl leading to her death, to two years' hard labour.

The court decided to close the doctor's clinic for a year and ordered him to pay a 500 Egyptian-pound fine. It also served the deceased girl's father a suspended three-month prison sentence.

Atef al-Shitani, the rapporteur of the National Popular Council, described Monday's decision as "historic", adding that it is the first time a defendant is sentenced to prison over performing FGM.

In June 2013, 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea died at the clinic of Raslan Halawa, a physician, after undergoing FGM. Halawa was tried and found guilty, marking the first prosecution since the practice was banned in Egypt in 2008.

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

A misdemeanor court initially acquitted Halawa and the girl's father in November 2014.

During investigation, the father retracted from his initial police report statements where he had accused the doctor. Instead, he claimed his daughter was suffering from pelvic pain, and was diagnosed with having "excess" skin that had to be surgically removed.

Halawa has denied carrying out FGM. Instead, he stated that the victim suffered from "excess" skin which he had removed by cauterisation. 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 Batea 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 manslaughter. He was also charged, along with the father, with performing FGM and referred to trial.

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 in the past.

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