Two men in Egypt were acquitted on charges relating to female genital mutilation (FGM) on Nov. 27. Since the law banning FGM was amended in 2008, this is the only case of FGM that resulted in trial. The charges stemmed from the death of a 13 year-old girl who died last year of an allergic reaction to penicillin, after her father took her to a local doctor for an FGM procedure. The prosecutor charged the doctor with manslaughter and committing the practice of FGM, and charged the girl's father with endangering her life and forcing her to undergo FGM. While FGM is banned in Egypt, the practice continues due to a lack of prosecutions and investigations, in part due to the belief among local authorities that FGM is a private, family issue. In response to the verdicts, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report calling for Egyptian authorities to take clear actions to end the practice of FGM by enforcing the law, prosecuting and investigating those who carry out the procedure, and undertaking measures to increase national awareness of the harms of FGM.
FGM is a widespread practice, despite the international community's call to end the practice. The UN has consistently campaigned for an end to FGM, labeling the practice gender-based discrimination, torture, an affront to human dignity and an irreparable, irreversible abuse of the human rights of women and girls. UK Prime Minister David Cameron in July announced plans to enact new laws that will protect girls from the practice. In July 2013, noting the continued pervasiveness of FGM, UNICEF reported a world-wide decline in the practice due to multiple campaigns intended to educate parents on the emotional and physical health risks associated with the procedure and its aftermath. Uganda joined the movement against FGM in 2009 by outlawing it, although it is still commonly practiced there. The majority of FGM procedures occur in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.
From Jurist, Nov. 27. Used with permission.