A young girl has passed away in southern Egypt after her parents brought her to a physician who performed a female circumcision.
Even though the practice is against the law in Egypt, it is still widespread in the province of Assiut.
The 12-year-old girl’s death in the region prompted the country’s public prosecutor to order arrests of the doctor and the girl’s parents.
For years, Egypt has been battling the old practice, which is believed to control the sexuality of women. It was in 2008 when a law was passed banning the cutting of female genitalia.
But according to a government survey in 2015, 87 percent of Egyptian girls and women aged between 15 and 49 have been circumcised.
The managing director of Tadwein Gender Research Centre, Amel Fahmy, said: “Many more Egyptian girls will be forced to undergo the procedure, and many of them will die – as long as there is no clear strategy from the state and a true criminalisation of the practice.”
Legislators then adopted amendments to the law in 2016 and offenders will receive tougher sentences and punishments.
But according to women’s rights advocates, the law has some loopholes.
Reda el-Danbouki, a human rights lawyer, said the penal code criminalizes the cutting of female genital only when ‘there is no medical justification.’
He said: “This clause opens the door to parents as well as physicians to claim that they were not conducting female circumcision but simply removing allegedly discomforting skin growth.”
Cases where girls bled to death after the procedure made headlines in the country in the past few years.
In 2016, two doctors and the mother of a 17-year-old girl who passed away after the mutilation were sentenced to a one-year- suspended sentence, a decision that triggered outrage from activists.
“Judges themselves are not convinced that female circumcision is a crime that should be punished,” Mr. Danbouki said.
“Judges are lenient when it comes to cases entailing violence against women.”
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