Female Genital Mutilation in Egypt Must End


Photo credit: Daily News Egypt 

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a medically unnecessary procedure whereby parts of the female external genitalia are cut, damaged or removed. In Egypt, this practice dates back to Pharonic times and still persists today, with 92% of ever married women age 15-49 affected. The UN opposes FGM as a human rights violation and form of violence against women. In Egypt, FGM was medically forbidden in 2007 then legally banned in 2008 through a clause to the Child Law. However, it was only recently that the first doctor was prosecuted for an FGM related death, though the full penalties have not been enforced. In addition, the Grand Mufti of Azhar and Coptic Pope have refuted the belief that FGM is religiously mandated by Islam or Christianity.

So why are the numbers still so high? Law enforcement has been severely inadequate, FGM was promoted during the short reign of President Morsi, and many still practise FGM for cultural and traditional reasons. For example, many believe FGM prevents sexual promiscuity, adultery, and maintains a girl’s ‘marriageability’. Proponents of FGM also fail to acknowledge the short and long-term medical, sexual, psychological, emotional and reproductive damage FGM can inflict on women, and subsequently on marriages, families and society. Fortunately, groups such as UNICEF, UNFPA and the Coalition Against FGM are seeing progress through collaborative FGM education programs.

However, even if the ‘demand’ decreases, consistent prosecution of physicians and traditional midwives is still needed to decrease the ‘supply’ of FGM. The Egyptian Medical Syndicate could play an important role through physician accountability and reporting to authorities. Subsequently, the justice system needs to follow the precedent set in the recent prosecution, enforcing the full penalty of the law on FGM physicians and midwives.

FGM is a traumatic procedure that is medically and religiously unnecessary. One by one, family by family, FGM provider by FGM provider, and community by community, FGM must end in Egypt.


6 Responses to “Female Genital Mutilation in Egypt Must End”

  1. mcole35 Says:

    It is baffling that FGM remains extensively practiced. Thank you for sharing this issue. Accountability measures regarding human rights are imperative. It’s complex to think of “culture” (especially those steeped in supposed religious or traditional beliefs) as something to be overcome, but when national/political and religious laws are involved, social responsibilities are also implicated. The link below is to a UN magazine article about the need to have effective accountability systems in place to uphold human rights and to deal with violations. It briefly discusses how states can work to achieve this. One woman in the clip you shared said that reporting incidences to the police doesn’t help because the police believe in the practice as part of the culture. Your call for following the judicial precedent set is important, but it also requires the ability for people to speak up and for the system as a whole to take action.


  2. jodetunde Says:

    Thank you for the great post. I think it is important to not ignore the cultural, social, economic, political and systematic factors in every country that continue to reinforce the practice of FGM. It is not just the acknowledgment of of an human rights violation but what are the transformative processes that need to occur in order for change to occur. Perhaps what are the values around FGM in Egypt is not something to be taken light. Is it just enough to change the practice of FGM? What about the value placed on women and other vulnerable populations in Egypt? What are the beliefs? Who benefits/profits from these beliefs and practices? FGM practices are egregious but they came about for a reason, they continue for a reason and they are supported by the systems in Egypt for a reason. It is not necessarily “backwards” individuals that are practicing this, this involves the whole of the society. Targeting syndicates are important but what would really get at the core of the issue?

  3. shadi19 Says:

    Thank you so much for your very important post on such a gruesome practice that should have no place in a world where we pride ourselves on so many achievements and progress! There is a unspoken assumption that FGM is forced on women by men and it is clear from this fantastic piece in Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/04/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-anthropologist/389640/) that it is far from the truth. Although like any other major issue it is multi factorial however it is a cultural practice that is mostly emphasized and carried out by the women ( mothers, grandmothers). Any eradication of this horrible practiced as called by many organizations among which is United Nations ( http://www.unfpa.org/female-genital-mutilation) should seriously consider education of young girls and women as a primary investment towards a sustainable eradication of FGM.

  4. farhanpervaiz Says:

    Thank you for the post. I’m glad you shared the various factors involved in this issues, including social and political. I think it’s important to emphasize that FGM is largely a cultural issues and not related to religion. Many religious bodies have spoken out against it, yet it is still a large issue and many use religion as justification for this. It is important to determine how this cultural practice can be changed , especially, if attempts by influential religious authorities have failed. It proposes the idea that there are many more factors beyond religion and culture are involved, as is mentioned in the post. Continuing to see how economic, political and systematic factors enable and/or encourage this action is important.

  5. bkybitanihirwe Says:

    Thank you for sharing this interesting post. FGM is carried out based on religious and cultural beliefs that female circumcision keeps women pure and reduces their sexual libido. It is a practice that is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death. Although FGM has been illegal in Egypt since 2008, the epidemic proportions of the practice within the country and its backing by religious leaders and elders of communities remains a key issue. In order to eradicate a practice so entrenched in Egyptian society the author places an emphasis on a judicial precedent targeting FGM, however investment in behaviour change interventions by engaging key community leaders
    and the younger ‘generation’ within a stable political environment will also be of importance.

  6. cjjar Says:

    Thanks for all your thoughtful comments on the post. I agree – this is an extremely complex issue that will certainly not be ‘solved’ only with better law enforcement. That is the angle I chose to focus on for this assignment, as it is one of the ‘pieces’ of the puzzle that has not received much attention yet, and needs to be included in the strategy. However, as you all say, there are many deeply engrained cultural and traditional beliefs at play here. However, I didn’t focus on these because there are already many groups working in creative and collaborative ways on culturally sensitive awareness and education programs within schools and communities. It is a long, strategic and intentional process, but they are seeing progress as individuals, families and even whole communities make commitments to be “FGM-free”. Hopefully with time, cultural sensitivity, and intentional planning, all aspects of the issue will be addressed and will result in a whole country free of FGM.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: