An Egyptian court on Thursday acquitted a doctor who was charged with carrying out a female genital mutilation procedure that led to the death of a 13-year-old girl last year.
Dr. Raslan Fadl and the father of the dead girl were the first Egyptians to ever be put on trial in connection with carrying out the procedure.
Reda el-Danbouki, a rights lawyer who helped bring the case to court, said that the judge dropped a charge of manslaughter after the family of the girl, Soheir Bataa, and Fadl agreed to reconcile, reportedly with a financial settlement involved.
Nonetheless, el-Danbouki expressed surprise over the verdict, saying the doctor's testimony contradicted state autopsy findings. He said an appeal was likely.
Despite a government ban on the practice in 2008, female circumcision, as it is usually called in Egypt, is common, especially in rural areas.
Activists were disappointed with the verdict. They had hoped that the case would discourage the practice; now they fear the rate will increase.
"It is awful, after what seemed to be strong moves towards a positive outcome, that Soheir has not been given justice," said Suad Abu Dayyeh, Middle East and North Africa consultant for international women's advocacy group Equality Now.
Hassan is a special correspondent.