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EGYPT: Egyptian Girl Dies From Circumcision

 A 13-year-old Egyptian girl died during a female genital mutilation (FGM) operation, the second such case reported over the past two months, local media said Saturday.

The doctor involved has been referred to the state prosecutor for investigation and his clinic in the rural Gharbiyah province has been closed down, state-owned Al-Gomhoria daily reported.

The earlier death of a 12-year-old girl during an FGM operation in June sparked a public outcry and prompted the government to officially ban hospitals from performing the traditional procedure which is widespread throughout Egypt.

The latest death was uncovered when Karima Rahim Massoud's father applied on Friday for a death certificate, insisting his daughter had died from natural causes, reported the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. The father has also been referred to the prosecutor.

The reports could not be immediately confirmed as judicial authorities could not be reached for comment Saturday.

FGM usually involves the removal of the clitoris and other parts of female genitalia on the grounds it tames girl's sexual desire and maintains her honor.

It is practiced by Muslims and Christians alike, deeply rooted in the Nile Valley region and parts of sub-Saharan African, and is also done in Yemen and Oman.

While top clerics insist the practice has nothing to do with Islam, parents, especially in rural villages and Cairo slums, believe they are helping their daughters by protecting their virginity before marriage.

While groups which favor the practice coin it female circumcision, the expression Female Genital Mutilation gained growing support in the late 1970s. The word mutilation was chosen not only to establish a clear linguistic distinction from male circumcision, but to emphasize the gravity of the act. In 1990, this term was adopted at the third conference of the Inter African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC) in Addis Ababa. In 1991, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that the United Nations adopt this terminology and subsequently, it has been widely used in UN documents.

Among practicing cultures, FGM is most commonly performed between the ages of four and eight, but can take place at any age from infancy to adolescence. Prohibition has led to FGM going underground, at times with people who have had no medical training performing the cutting without anesthetic, sterilization, or the use of proper medical instruments. The procedure, when performed without any anesthetic, can lead to death through shock from immense pain or excessive bleeding. The failure to use sterile medical instruments may lead to infections.

Other serious long term health effects are also common. These include urinary and reproductive tract infections, caused by obstructed flow of urine and menstrual blood, various forms of scarring and infertility. The first time having sexual intercourse will often be extremely painful, and infibulated women will need the labia majora to be opened, to allow their husband access to the vagina. This second cut, sometimes performed by the husband with a knife, can cause other complications to arise.

A June 2006 study by the WHO has cast doubt on the safety of genital cutting of any kind. This study was conducted on a cohort of 28,393 women attending delivery wards at 28 obstetric centers in areas of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal and the Sudan. A high proportion of these mothers had undergone FGM. According to the WHO criteria, all types of FGM were found to pose an increased risk of death to the baby.

SOURCE: The Jerusalem Post

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DATE: 16/08/2007

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