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Egyptian Doctor Acquitted in Female Genital Mutilation Case

FILE - A man stands in front of the grave of Soheir al-Batea, who died after undergoing female genital mutilation, in Dierb Biqtaris village on the outskirts of Aga, Egypt, Nov. 5, 2014.

An Egyptian court hearing the country's first female genital mutilation case has acquitted a male doctor charged with performing FGM that killed a teenage girl.

The court also acquitted the girl's father, who took her to the doctor for surgery last year in a Nile Delta town.

It ruled that the doctor, Raslan Fadl, and the father of Soheir al-Batea, 13, did not break the ban on the practice, without providing further explanation.

Fadl allegedly performed FGM at the request of the girl's father. After the procedure, al-Batea died from what the doctor said was an allergic reaction to penicillin.

Female genital mutilation was criminalized in Egypt in 2008, but it remains widespread in the country. Activists say most Egyptian girls are still being circumcised, mostly in private clinics.

The practice is meant to control women by making sex unenjoyable, and the result is considered by many in Egypt, both Muslims and Christians, to be a sign of purity.

The World Health Organization says as many as 140 million women have been the victims of FGM worldwide.