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Egypt criminalizes female genital mutilation

Female Genital Mutilations, Egypt, World Health Organization

Health

Egypt criminalizes female genital mutilation

Christine Douglass-Williams 

It’s about time. The new draft law criminalizes female genital mutilation (FGM) with penalties to up to seven years in prison.

This is despite a survey in Egypt, conducted last March, that indicated women approved of FGM more than men do, likely because of their dedication to their Islamic faith. The practice, which many insist is cultural, is actually religious, justified in Islamic texts (cf. Umdat al-Salik e4.3, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 5:75, Abu Dawud 41:5251). It has been steadily on the rise in the U.S., in Europe and in fact globally:

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 200 million women and girls have undergone FGM worldwide and that every year three million girls are at risk of being cut.

Sudan criminalized the practice back in May. Now it remains to be seen whether either Sudan or Egypt will comply to anti-FGM laws. It is likely that they will not, because of religious devotion. There have also few cases of successful prosecutions for FGM, which is done secretly, making prosecution all the more difficult.

“Government’s position considered momentum in criminalising FGM: National Council for Women,” by Nihal Samir, Daily News Egypt, January 24, 2021:

The Egyptian government’s position on female genital mutilation (FGM) can be considered momentum in criminalising the practice in the country, according to Maya Morsi, President of the National Council for Women (NCW).

The National Committee for the Eradication of FGM, co-chaired by the NCW and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), hailed the Egyptian cabinet’s approval on a draft law submitted by the committee regarding FGM.

The committee added that legal procedures have been put in place to study the practice at the Ministry of Justice. It includes amending some provisions of the Penal Code issued by Law No 58 of 1937, to establish a deterrent punishment for FGM crimes.

The draft law has seen amendments in Articles (242 bis) and (242 bis A), with the amendment to Article (242 bis) stipulating, “Whoever performs female genital mutilation by removing part of [the girl/woman’s] genitals shall be punished with imprisonment for no less than five years.”

It also stipulates, “[If] amending, mutilating, or inflicting injuries to those organs [takes place], and if that act results in a permanent disability, the penalty shall be rigorous imprisonment, for no less than seven years, but if the act leads to death, the penalty shall be rigorous imprisonment, for no less than 10 years.”

In this article, the amendment outlines the punishment as rigorous if the person who performed the circumcision was a doctor or nurse. If their crime resulted in a permanent disability, the penalty shall be rigorous imprisonment for not less than 10 years, but if the act leads to death, the punishment is rigorous imprisonment, for not less than 15 years and not exceeding 20 years.

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