An Egyptian father told his three daughters that they would receive a vaccine for COVID-19 before each was injected with a general anesthetic and subjected to female genital mutilation, according to prosecutors. The three minors "lost consciousness and when they woke up they were shocked to find their legs bound together and a sensation of pain in their genitals," prosecutors say, per Al Jazeera. Female genital mutilation, usually involving the total or partial removal of the labia and clitoris, was banned in Egypt in 2008 and made a felony in 2016. Just the act of requesting the procedure carries up to three years in jail, while performing the procedure means up to seven years. But no one has been successfully prosecuted under the 2016 law and FGM remains common in Egypt, per Reuters.
A 2016 UNICEF survey found 87% of Egyptian females aged 15-49 had undergone the procedure, seen by some as a means to control sexuality. Still, the fact that this case was reported shows "authorities have started to take action against [FGM] and that girls and mothers have become more aware of the dangers," Entessar el-Saeed of the Cairo Center for Development and Law tells Reuters. An Egyptian girl forced to undergo the procedure actually bled to death in January, per the BBC, which notes the outcome of that case is unclear. The mother of the three girls, who is divorced from the father, went to police after hearing of their experience. A forensic report then revealed "the excision of ... reproductive organs," prosecutors say. The doctor, charged with performing the procedure, and the father, charged with assisting him, now face "an urgent criminal trial." (Read more female genital mutilation stories.)