Egyptian prosecutors are investigating the death of a teenage girl during a female genital mutilation operation at a private hospital.
Mayar Mohamed Mousa, 17, died in a hospital in the province of Suez on Sunday while under full anaesthesia, said Lotfi Abdel-Samee, the local health ministry undersecretary.
“This is something that the law has prohibited,” stressed Abdel-Samee.
Despite the ban in 2008, 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.
The law led to the first prison sentence against a doctor in Egypt in January 2015, with the girl’s father in that case given a three-month suspended sentence.
The doctor in that case never served a day in prison; he settled with the family. In most Islamic states that's all that's required, even for murder. See Suhair al Bataa, below.
On Sunday, Mousa’s sister had just undergone the operation before she was sent in for surgery.
The girls’ mother is a nurse, while their late father was a surgeon. The operation was being carried out by a registered female doctor, according to Abdel-Samee.
Authorities shut down the hospital on Monday after transferring patients to other hospitals as prosecutors questioned the hospital manager and medical staff involved in the operation, Abdel-Samee said.
They have also spoken to the mother, a prosecution official said.
The case was opened after a health inspector reported the circumstances of the girl’s death.
Medical examiners have carried out an autopsy, and are due to report the cause of death, said Abdel-Samee.
While 200 million women and girls worldwide have been subjected to the practise, there have been major strides in Egypt, as well as Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Kenya against FGM, according to Claudia Cappa, the lead author of a February UN children’s agency report on the issue.
“The latest figures from the Egypt Demographic and Health Survey show that we’re winning,” the United Nations Development Programme said in a report last year.
“Mothers’ attitudes are changing, too,” UNDP said.
While 92% of mothers had undergone the procedure, only 35% of them “intend to circumcise their daughters,” according to the UNDP report.
Victims of the procedure are left to cope with a range of consequences from bleeding and pain while urinating, extreme discomfort during sex, fatal complications in childbirth and deep psychological trauma.
In 2013, Suhair al Bataa, also died from an FGM procedure in an Egyptian hospital. She was 13 years old.