A father in Egypt forced his three unconscious daughters to undergo female genital mutilation after lying to them that a doctor was there to give them a coronavirus vaccine.
The girls, who were all minors, were injected with a drug that put them to sleep before the doctor performed the surgery.
Egyptian authorities said they will prosecute the medic for undertaking the procedure and the father for assisting in the alleged crime.
FGM is illegal in Egypt and when the girls, whose parents are divorced, told their mother what had happened she reported it to the authorities.
Egypt banned FGM in 2008 and made it a felony in 2016. There are no health benefits of the surgery, which intentionally alters or injures female genital organs. (A file photo above shows a homemade tool from a nail used for FGM)
'The public prosecution has ordered the referral of a doctor and the father of three girls to an urgent criminal trial,' an official statement said.
Egypt banned FGM in 2008 and made it a felony in 2016. There are no health benefits of the surgery, which intentionally alters or injures female genital organs.
Doctors who perform the procedure face a jail sentence for up to seven years and anyone requesting it be carried out faces up to three years in jail.
But no one has been successfully prosecuted under the 2016 law and women's rights groups in Egypt say the ban has not been well enforced.
Much of society remains permissive of FGM, which is widely practised by both Christians and Muslims.
A 2016 survey by the U.N. Children's Fund showed an astonishing 87 per cent of Egyptian women and girls aged between 15-49 had undergone FGM.
Women's rights campaigners said the mother's decision to report the crime highlighted an increasing awareness of the damage caused by FGM, and welcomed what they said was decisive action by the authorities.
Egyptian doctors give medical advice to women and girls about FGM during an awareness campaign in Giza, on the outskirts of the capital Cairo, in February 2020
'It is encouraging that authorities have started to take action against female genital mutilation and that girls and mothers have become more aware of the dangers of the procedure,' said Entessar el-Saeed, head of the Cairo Center for Development and Law.
The head of Egypt's National Council for Women Maya Morsi also welcomed the swift prosecution, tweeting that there should be no tolerance for the practice.
World leaders have pledged to eradicate FGM by 2030, but campaigners say the ancient ritual remains deeply entrenched in many places.
The surgery is underpinned by the desire to control female sexuality, but is often justified for cultural or religious reasons in conservative societies.
It can cause long-lasting mental and physical health problems including chronic infections, menstrual problems, infertility, pregnancy and childbirth complications.