August 13, 2009
CAIRO (Mustafa Suleiman)
An Egyptian man has been charged with illegally circumcising a young girl on Thursday, making him the first person to face the law since Cairo criminalized the controversial practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM.
Ahmed Gad al-Karim, 69, was charged with inflicting injury on an 11-year-old girl after a local hospital notified the police when the young girl was brought in suffering from heavy bleeding following a circumcision.
"The government wants to protect Egyptian children and give them a healthy environment." -Prosecutor general
The Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya, 600 kilometers south of Cairo, was told that the girl's mother gave Karim 150 Egyptian Pounds ($ 27) to circumcise her daughter, who remains in critical condition.Karim said he performed the operation at the girl's house and said he had used a scalpel.
According to the World Health Organization and estimated 100 to 140 million females worldwide currently live with the consequences of FGM, which is internationally recognized as a human rights violation.
"Although the new law criminalizes female circumcision, girls in the Egyptian countryside still undergo these operations." -Prosecutor general
Karim's arrest is the first since Egypt passed law number 126 in 2008, which criminalizes FGM due to the physical and psychological damages it inflicts on the victims.
In 2008, the law was met with objections by the Muslim Brotherhood and independent MPs, who argued that female circumcision is part of the Shariah law as it protects a woman's chastity.
But Dar al-Iftaa, the government institution in charge of issuing religious edicts for contemporary issues, ruled that circumcision is not part of Islam and is a cultural practice.
"The government wants to protect Egyptian children and give them a healthy environment," the prosecutor general said in a statement of which Al Arabiya obtained a copy.
"Although the new law criminalizes female circumcision, girls in the Egyptian countryside still undergo these operations," he concluded.