Egypt to launch new anti-FGM initiative on February 6

Jan 29, 2019

CAIRO – 29 January 2019: The Egyptian government will launch a new anti- female genital mutilation (FGM) initiative nationwide on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Feb. 6, said Minister of Health Hala Abou Zeid in a press conference on Sunday.

“The council is paying great attention to the anti-FGM file […] and a new initiative will be launched to fight this phenomenon,” Abou Zeid said in the conference held following a meeting for the National Population Council after a 4-year hiatus.

“Awareness campaigns to combat Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Egypt are paying off,” Vivian Fouad, the National Population Council (NPC)’s FGM programme spokeswoman, told Egypt today on Tuesday.

Fouad added that the council received a high number of notices from citizens asking about the phenomenon, which confirms the citizens’ awareness and keenness to obtain information through the council.

“In the last period, awareness campaigns have stepped up through channels to prevent the phenomenon and help people to know about the psychological and health problems caused by this phenomenon,” she noted.

On February 8, the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the United Nations released a statement praising Egypt’s efforts to address the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The United Nations is committed to continue working jointly with the Egyptian Government towards this objective. The UN stressed the importance of collectively eliminating such harmful practices and more broadly creating a safer environment for young women and girls in Egypt.

“The United Nations in Egypt recognizes the ongoing efforts of the Government, which has led to the reduction of FGM in the younger age groups (15-17 years) by more than 13 percent since 2008. Moreover, the adoption of a National FGM Strategy 2016-2020 and most importantly, the recent decision to amend and stiffen the law criminalizing FGM, were critical steps taken to address FGM”, the statement read.

The statement hailed Egypt’s efforts, noting, “it’s clear that it is possible for rates of FGM to drop significantly when joint efforts are exerted by different parties, including governments, international organizations, local communities and medical professionals to raise awareness about the negative consequences of FGM/C, and when the legislative response is to criminalize such harmful practices.”

Minister of Health Ahmed Emad presented six steps to eliminate this crime by 2030:

1. Criminalization of FGM in the Penal Code, punishable by severe imprisonment.

2. The Attorney General shall prepare a book to record these crimes as a reference in the investigation of female circumcision incidents.

3. The Minister of Health issued a circular book in October 2017, in which hospitals are required to inform the police when they receive female circumcision cases.

4. To require the Ministry of Health’s sectors to carry out training programs and educational programs on the law, covering the penalties and negative consequences of circumcision.

5. Implementation of the Supreme Council of Universities’ approval in 2017 to add an educational curriculum against the crime of female genital mutilation within the curriculum of obstetrics students in medical school programs.

6. Commitment of all ministries and agencies to integrate the curriculum against female genital mutilation within their training and service programs.

Moreover,  Egyptian Dar Al-Iftaa declared that female genital mutilation (FGM) is religiously forbidden on May 30, 2018, adding that banning FGM should be a religious duty due to its harmful effects on the body.

Dar Al-Iftaa also explained that FGM is not mentioned in Islamic laws and that it only still occurs because it’s considered to be a social norm in the rural areas and some poor parts of Egypt.

FGM is considered as an attack on religion through damaging the most sensitive organ in the female body. In Islam, protecting the body from any harm is a must and mutilation violates this rule; therefore, if the parents of females who undergo FGM consent to the abhorrent surgery, they should be punished.

Also, The Minister of Health and the Administrative Court of Justice decided that “FGM should be banned in hospitals and public/private clinics. And it should only be done if the female suffers from a serious disease, which is decided by the head of the department of Gynecology based on a doctor’s recommendation.”

The court of Justice approved that the surgery will not be against the law only if it is approved by the Minister of health himself.