Girls were allegedly told they were to have Covid-19 vaccinations but were cut by doctor after being sedate
Egypt’s public prosecutor has ordered the immediate trial of a father on charges of forcing his three young daughters to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), after he told them they were going to be vaccinated against coronavirus. The doctor involved will also go on trial.
The procedure was banned in 2008 and criminalised in 2016.
The man was reported to the authorities by his former wife, who said the girls were under 18. The unnamed doctor is accused of carrying out the procedure, which involves the removal of the outer layers of female genitalia and sometimes the clitoris.
A statement from the public prosecutor said the girls were told they would be seeing a doctor to be vaccinated. Instead, they were injected with a sedative and awoke later to find they had forcibly undergone FGM.
Despite FGM being criminalised in Egypt for four years, few cases have made it to trial and just one doctor has served time in prison for performing the procedure.
Yet according to Unicef, 87% of women aged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM in Egypt, and about 14% of girls under 14 have been cut.
Under Egypt’s current laws, anyone who performs FGM faces between three and 15 years in prison, while anyone accompanying girls or women to be cut faces up to three years in jail.
Campaigners have long warned that the new legislation is unlikely to be effective due to a reliance on people to self-report. They have also voiced concern that outlawing FGM could result in more women and girls being taken to medical facilities to undergo the procedure while keeping it hidden.
Cases normally become public only when women or girls die during the procedure. In February, 12-year-old Nada Hassan Abdel-Maqsoud bled to death after a 70-year-old doctor performed the procedure on her without anaesthesia. The doctor was arrested, but has since been released awaiting trial. No trial date has been set due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2013, 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea died after being cut by a doctor. The landmark case led to the conviction of Dr Raslan Fadl in early 2015. Yet Fadl walked free just three months later and was practising medicine again shortly afterwards. A controversial reconciliation with the deceased girl’s family led to the suspension of two years of his sentence.
“It’s really shocking that authorities such as judges and the police continue to treat FGM cases with extreme leniency here. The sad reality is that most of them do not take cases seriously because they believe that it is for the benefit of the girl to undergo it to protect her chastity,” said Reda el-Danbouki, executive director of the Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness.
“We have seen that even when a doctor is arrested such as earlier this year, he is set free almost immediately and a trial date is now in doubt. This gives the impression that doctors can continue to perform FGM with impunity,” he said.
Source: The Guardian