Egypt: Enforce FGM law & properly investigate Soheir al-Batea’s death

26 JANUARY 2015 UPDATE: Success at last! Doctor and father convicted in the death of 13-year-old Soheir! This morning, the appeals court in Mansoura overturned the lower court's 2014 decision and sentenced Dr. Fadl to two years in jail for manslaughter and three months for performing FGM. Soheir's father received a three month suspended sentence under the anti-FGM law. The doctor's clinic, where the FGM was performed, was also closed for one year.

This first ever FGM trial in Egypt is hugely important in a country which has the highest number of affected women and girls in the world. In a country where medicalization of FGM is very high (more than 75% of cases performed by medical practitioners), it is also extremely significant that a medical professional was sentenced. Egypt is sending a strong message that FGM will not be tolerated, particularly in the lead up to the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February. We are hopeful that this will be an important stepping stone towards ending this extreme human rights violation once and for all. On behalf of Equality Now and our partners, thank you to everyone who supported this campaign!

Read more in The Guardian, Al Jazeera, New York Times and BuzzFeedNews. [read more updates here.]

Equality Now’s Suad Abu-Dayyeh at the home of Soheir al-Batea
In July 2013 Equality Now issued Action 38.3 calling for enforcement of the anti-FGM law and justice in the case of 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea who died after Dr. Raslan Fadl allegedly performed female genital mutilation (FGM) on her at her father’s request in a clinic north-east of Cairo. Dr. Fadl was interrogated by prosecutors and released on bail pending investigation.

The long-delayed forensic report lists Soheir’s cause of death as an allergic reaction to penicillin and makes no mention of FGM, despite her father’s initial statement to the police that she had been brought to the clinic to be subjected to the procedure. We also understand that Dr. Fadl paid Soheir’s family 50,000 Egyptian Pounds ($7,257 USD) and they no longer want to pursue the case. Furthermore, Soheir’s father has changed his statement to match Dr. Fadl’s statement that Soheir suffered from genital warts and the family brought her to the doctor to treat them. Meanwhile, Dr Fadl continues to practice in his clinic and reportedly performs FGM procedures daily in clear violation of the 2008 law banning the practice.

Please join Equality Now and our Egyptian partners, the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) and the Egyptian Coalition for Children’s Rights (ECCR) in continuing to call on the government of Egypt to live up to its domestic and international obligations by:

  • Effectively enforcing its FGM law by properly investigating and fully prosecuting violations and in particular ensuring that Soheir’s death is properly investigated including by arranging for medical experts to review the forensic report
  • Ensuring that Dr. Fadl is thoroughly investigated and held accountable for all crimes he is found to have committed
  • Supporting and enhancing community education to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM and acknowledging FGM as a human rights violation with harmful consequences
  • Ensuring that health care providers are given comprehensive education and training on the health and human rights implications of FGM and refrain from performing any form of the practice

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb

Minister of Justice Mr. Nayer Adel-Monei Othman

Minister of Health & Population Adel El-Adawi

Attorney General Mr. Hisham Barakat