Maya Mohamed Mousa, a 17-year-old Egyptian girl, has died after undergoing an illegal procedure known as female genital mutilation, or female circumcision.
According to Reuters, Mousa and her twin sister arrived at the private El Canal Hospital in Suez to undergo female circumcision on Sunday. Although the procedure was performed under anesthesia, Mousa died after experiencing heavy bleeding. Thankfully, Maya’s sister survived.
Sedkhi Sidhom, an official from Egypt’s health ministry, said the hospital has since been shut down, and Egyptian prosecutors are investigating Mousa’s death.
“Not all cases of female circumcision are reported across Egypt. There are cases of circumcision where the women die and are then buried without a word being mentioned,” Sidhom said.
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) June 2, 2016
While there are thousands of deaths due to FGM each year, many go without being acknowledged. However, there are some that make headlines like Mousa’s. Last year, Raslan Fadl, a medical doctor, was convicted of manslaughter in Egypt’s first female genital mutilation trial after a 13-year-old girl died during a botched procedure. Suad Abu-Dayyeh, Middle East and North Africa consultant at rights group Equality Now, said Fadl was sentenced to more than two years in prison, but has yet to serve time behind bars.
“It is incredible that the Egyptian police are not taking a tough line on ending FGM in a country where over 27 million have been affected,” Abu-Dayyeh said in a statement. “The death of the 17-year-old should be yet another shocking wake up call for Egypt.”
The answers to some common questions regarding female genital mutilation can be found below:
What is female genital mutilation (FGM)?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), female genital mutilation includes surgical procedures that injure the “female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) June 2, 2016
What risks are associated with FGM?
Not only can female circumcision cause severe bleeding, like the kind Mousa died from, but it can also lead to trouble urinating, cysts, infections, and trouble during childbirth and increased chance of newborn deaths.
Complications tend to arise immediately after the procedure is finished, and can include:
- severe pain
- excessive bleeding (haemorrhage)
- genital tissue swelling
- infections e.g., tetanus
- urinary problems
- wound healing problems
- injury to surrounding genital tissue
“The pain inflicted by FGM does not stop with the initial procedure, but often continues as ongoing torture throughout a woman’s life,” said Manfred Nowak, a UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, according to the End FGM website.
Is female genital mutilation legal?
Female genital mutilation is illegal in most countries and is a direct violation of the human rights of girls and women. Although the practice has been banned in Egypt since 2008, more than nine in 10 girls between the ages of 15 and 49 have undergone FGM, with 80 percent of these procedures carried out by medical professionals.
“It’s a catastrophe that these cases are still happening. The doctors are actually not performing operations, but crimes,” said Dalia Abd El-Hameed, gender and women’s rights officer at the EIPR. “Criminalization alone is not enough. The state must focus on changing individuals’ beliefs… that cannot be done using only medical and religious discourse.”
Who is at risk for FGM?
Female genital mutilation is a worldwide concern, with more than three million girls and women at risk. The WHO reports that there are currently 200 million women alive today who have undergone female genital mutilation. While the practice is known to take place in 30 countries, it is most common in the “western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries the Middle East and Asia.”
Why is female genital mutilation performed?
There are several reasons why female genital mutilation is performed:
- FGM is often carried out to control women’s sexuality
- The process is sometimes seen as a girl’s initiation into womanhood
- FGM is often done in preparation for marriage
- Although no religion specifically acknowledges the procedure, many think FGM has religious ties
- FGM tends to be done as a cultural tradition
What do you think should happen to the doctors who perform FGM? Leave your comments below.
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