SUNDAY ADVOCATE. Baton Rouge, (August 25, 1996): page 5A.


by the Associated Press

CAIRO, Egypt - A 14-year-old girl bled to death during a
female circumcision operation Saturday, the second to die in
two months.

     Police said they were looking for the doctor who fled
after performing the surgery on Amina Abdel-Hamid Abu-Elah
in the village of Ashfin, just north of Cairo.

     Despite the dangers to health, as estimated 70 percent
to 90 percent of girls in Egypt are circumcised before
puberty.  The procedure - also known as genital mutilation -
can involve cutting away the tip of the clitoris or removing
all the exterior genitals.

     Many Egyptians think the operation curbs a girl's
sexual appetite or enhances cleanliness.  Others believe it
is ordained by Islam, although Muslim scholars are at odds
over this.  Some Egyptian Christians follow this practice,
too.  There is no law what specifically outlaws female
circumcision in Egypt, but the government has taken steps to
try to stop it.

     Barbers and midwives, who are the traditional
practitioners, face prosecution if caught on charges of
performing surgery without a medical license.

     Last month, Health Minister Ismail Sallam, under
pressure from women's and human rights groups, banned all
registered doctors, nurses and health care workers from
performing circumcisions.

     Earlier, the government had banned the procedure from
state-run hospitals, and last month Sallam expanded the
procedure to include private clinics.  Sallam said violators
faced "severe punishment," but did not specify what the
penalties would be.

     Last month, an 11-year-old girl bled to death after a
botched circumcision performed by a barber.

(File revised 27 December 2003)