EGYPT: Egyptian Woman Held After Near-Fatal Female Circumcision

CAIRO --  Egyptian police are holding a woman who conducted a near-fatal circumcision on a young girl, a widely-condemned practice the authorities are trying to stamp out, the press reported Friday.

The victim, Naglaa Khamis, went into a coma and suffered severe hemorrhaging after the removal of part of her genitals, but was saved after being taken to hospital by her parents.

Police took the woman who carried out the mutilation in Minya, south of Cairo, into custody.

The health ministry said, last week, that a law to toughen penalties against female circumcision will be put to parliament when it reconvenes in the autumn, after two young girls died during such operations in recent months.

People found guilty of carrying out female circumcision currently risk up to three years in prison and, in June, health minister Hatem Al Gabali issued a decree banning every doctor and member of the medical profession from performing the procedure.

Female genital mutilation is a practice that dates back to pharaonic times in Egypt. It is common in a band that stretches from Senegal in West Africa to Somalia on the east coast, and from Egypt in the north to Tanzania in the south.

The practice, which affects both Muslim and Christian women in Egypt, was banned in 1997, but doctors were allowed to operate "in exceptional cases."

Female circumcision can cause death through hemorrhaging, and later complications during childbirth. It also carries risks of infection, urinary tract problems, and mental trauma.

Religious leaders, usually silent on taboos relating to female sexuality, have also started to speak out against the practice, which many Egyptians believe is a duty under Islam and Christianity.

SOURCE: Middle East Times

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DATE: 18/08/2007 

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