Egypt bans female circumcision

Egypt has banned all female circumcision after the death this week of a 12-year-old girl undergoing the widely practised procedure.

Budour Ahmad Shaker died from an overdose of anaesthetic at a private clinic in Minya province in upper Egypt during the $9 operation. Her parents are threatening to sue the doctor involved after he reportedly tried to bribe them to withdraw their complaint.

Female circumcision, which involves the removal of the clitoris, and is also called female genital mutilation, was made illegal in Egypt in 1997. But the painful and sometimes deadly practice was allowed in exceptional cases, and is common in the south despite educational efforts by human rights organisations. President Hosni Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne, has been an active campaigner on the issue.

The ban was imposed on Thursday on every member of the medical profession, in public or private establishments, from carrying out a clitorodectomy. New legislation will be needed to enforce it.

In 2005, research by Unicef found that 96% of Egyptian women aged 15 to 49 who had ever been married reported they had been circumcised. The Egyptian government says a more recent study found 50,3% of girls aged 10 to 18 had been circumcised.

Muslims and Christians practise circumcision in Egypt and Sudan but it has no basis in either religion. The operation is usually performed by doctors in private clinics or, especially in rural areas, by barbers or midwives. – Guardian Unlimited Â

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