Egypt Jan 26 – An Egyptian appeals court on Monday sentenced a doctor to more than two years in jail for performing a female circumcision that killed a teenage girl, overturning an acquittal.
A lower court in November had acquitted the doctor and the father of 14-year-old Sohair al-Bataa in the first such case brought to the courts since the procedure was banned in 2008.
Despite the ban, female genital mutilation (FGM) is still widespread in Egypt, especially in rural areas. It is practised among Muslims as well as Egypt’s minority Christians.
An appeals court in the Nile Delta city of Mansura sentenced Dr Raslan Fadl to two years and three months in jail for “manslaughter, negligence, endangering the child’s life …and for performing FGM,” a judicial source said.
The girl’s father, who was also acquitted by the lower court, was handed down a three-month suspended sentence.
The court ordered that Fadl’s private clinic, where the operation was performed in June 2013, be shut down for a year.
FGM involves the removal of the clitoris and, sometimes, even more extreme mutilation, in a bid to control women’s sexuality.
The procedure can cause lifelong pain and serious complications during childbirth.
A 2000 survey found that 97 percent of married women in Egypt had undergone the procedure.
Activists say the campaign to end the practice suffered a setback with the 2011 overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak, whose regime had imposed the ban.
Some Islamists argued that the ban was a legacy of his autocratic rule which should not be enforced.
FGM is also practised in a number of other African countries as well as parts of the Middle East, and is usually carried out by women.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to 140 million women have been victims of genital mutilation worldwide.