Social norms on FGM in Egypt still prevail despite legislation: Study – Society – Egypt

The study, which covered the country’s legal and policy efforts to combat FGM from 1928 to 2020, concluded that although various laws have curbed the practice, they have not deterred people from continuing to practice. practice them on a large scale.

Citing a UNICEF report, the study noted that the prevalence of FGM among Egyptian women recorded 97% in 2000, decreased to 92% and 87% in 2015 and 2016, respectively, but increased to 91% in 2017.

Despite the first official step against the practice in the 1950s, “the hoped-for change has not yet been achieved”, noted Mai Aglan, director of the EYC’s research and studies unit, in the study.

The EYC study pointed out that the country first acted against the practice in 1959 when the Egyptian Ministry of Health issued a decree banning the operation in its units nationwide.

Several laws and decrees have been adopted following pressure from popular organizations and civil society following the death of girls who are victims of this practice, the study points out.

In 2008, Egypt passed a law making the practice a crime and prescribing a prison sentence of at least three months and at most two years and a fine ranging from EGP 1,000 to EGP 5,000 for anyone who practices female circumcision.

The EYC study said the decision to fully criminalize FGM came in response to the death of a girl who was subjected to FGM in Minya in Upper Egypt a year earlier.

In the years that followed, the government amended the law several times to toughen penalties against those involved in the practice.

The EYC said that after the issue resurfaced in 2016 with news of the death of a young girl from Suez’s cabinet, the government enacted even harsher sanctions.

The 2016 amendments redefined FGM as a felony rather than a misdemeanor and increased the prison sentence from 5 to 7 years for anyone performing the operation for non-medical reasons.

In addition, a 15-year prison sentence has been provided for in the event that FGM results in the victim’s death or permanent deformity.

The amendments also punish family members or anyone who accompanies girls to undergo FGM with one to three years in prison.

The legislature recognized the crime as the partial or complete removal of the external genitalia and causing injury to those organs without medical necessity.

In 2021, the government toughened the penalty against FGM, with non-medical people involved in the practice of genital mutilation facing prison sentences for a period of at least seven years in prison if permanently incapacitated and at least least 10 years if the act results in death.

The most recent amendments to the law stipulated that medical professionals such as doctors and nurses who are found guilty of performing FGM face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The amendment also stated that medical professionals who perform female genital mutilation could face between 10 and 15 years in prison.

If the procedure leads to permanent incapacitation, the medical professionals involved face a minimum of 10 years in prison, and if the procedure leads to death, the sentence will be increased to between 15 and 20 years in prison.

In addition, medical professionals found guilty of performing FGM will be denied licenses to practice their profession for up to five years and will have their clinics closed for the same period.

Under the 2021 amendments, anyone else found promoting, encouraging or supporting FGM will be imprisoned, even if the procedure was performed without causing harm.

Despite ongoing legislative efforts, EYC research has concluded that the laws themselves do not prevent parents from circumcising their daughters despite tougher penalties.

The penalty introduced against parents who seek to mutilate their daughters does not prevent the practice so much as it leads to people’s reluctance to report the crime for fear of punishment that can destroy families, the study adds.

The EYC noted that societal pressure to prevent the practice dissipates after the passing of the laws due to the lack of awareness programs and campaigns, especially in rural areas, which needed to go hand in hand with the legislation. .

The study found that treating the act as “a mere harmful practice” minimizes its real harm and consequences and fails to take into account that those who cling to tradition tie their attitude to reasons related to chastity and to religious beliefs.

Recommendations

The study called for tackling societal pressures, traditions and beliefs attributed to religion as well as misunderstandings resulting from lack of education.

He also urged Egypt to reframe the issue of FGM within the framework of children’s human rights and physical safety, as well as to rebuild trust between the government and civil society organizations to restore the cooperation on this issue.

The study also called for focusing awareness-raising activities against FGM on men and ending the existing perception that links norms of masculinity to the practice of cutting.

He also urged providing comprehensive education in schools to help young people understand the functions of the reproductive system and correct misconceptions about sexual desire and morals.

The study highlighted the need to design training programs for clerics to unify their terms in their thinking on the matter.

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