In Somalia, about 98% of girls undergo female genital mutilation, but one 10-year-old is now part of an even grimmer statistic: those who've died from it. A doctor at a Dhusamareb hospital tells Voice of America the child was brought to the ER early last week, two days after her parents say she'd had the procedure, but despite the response team's efforts to save the girl, she bled to death. She also got tetanus because the instruments used during the procedure weren't sterilized, Dr. Abdirahman Omar Hassan says. "They cut the clitoris, one side of the vulva was cut, the other side was wounded in three areas," Hassan noted. "I never saw anyone who was mutilated like that in my life." Hawa Aden Mohamed, a social activist and head of a local women's rights group, tells Reuters it's believed the person who carried out the mutilation "cut an important vein in the course of the operation."
The girl's father, meanwhile, says he's "distraught" but doesn't blame anyone for her death (he says she was "taken by Allah") and stands behind the practice. "The people in the area are content with it, her mother consented to it," Dahir Nur says. "We have seen the effects, but it's a culture in the country we live in." The practice—which involves partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia—is prohibited in Somalia's constitution, but there's nothing on the books actually outlawing it, the BBC notes. Politicians have been wary of criminalizing it for fear of infuriating locals who consider it a religious ritual. "The woman who performed the operation has not been arrested, but even if she was, there is no law that would ensure she is punished," Mohamed tells Reuters. "This is just one among many cases happening on a daily basis across Somalia." (A Michigan doctor was accused of mutilating 100 girls.)