Studies conducted by the anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) national program sponsored by National Population Council of Egypt reveals that genital mutilation has been the plight of 92 per cent females of age between 15 and 49 years in Egypt. The same study also reveals that the prevalence of FGM is relatively lower, about 61 per cent in females aged between 15 and 17 years.
Another fact related to the matter that deserves a mention is that figure was estimated to be about 95 per cent for women aged between 15 and 49 in rural areas of the country. Even though the statistics for the inhumane and unscientific act conducted openly and illegally on women of Egypt is lower for the younger age group, all these figures are equally alarming.
Even more startling is the fact that only a small number of these surgeries are carried out by doctors while the rest are done by unqualified ‘Dayas’ under unhygienic circumstances and/or using un-sterilized instruments putting the lives of women at risk.
Female Genital Mutilation involves partial or complete removal of external genitalia of females for non-medicinal purposes. A number of beliefs are cited as the rationale behind the act. In some parts of the world, it is considered as a right of passage into womanhood, and somewhere else as a precondition for marriage. Some communities think that it increases sexual pleasures of men and lessens arousal in women. Some even believe that women must undergo FMG to be able to have babies while others associate it with religious causes.
But the fact is that it is absolutely unscientific and utterly inhuman. It causes urine infections and other urinary problems, infections in the vagina and pelvis, cysts, bleeding, sexual dysfunction and severe problems in pregnancy. Despite all these scientific and logical facts, FGM is practiced in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Egypt being one of the countries with highest rates of FGM in the world.
Law criminalizing the practice were made in 2008. In 2016, it was amended increasing its degree of crime to a felony from a misdemeanor, punishable by 5 to 7 years of imprisonment. In the cases where the procedure results in permanent disability or death, the imprisonment term can go up to 15 years. As per the amendment, anyone who escorts girls for FGM will have to face 1 to 3 years in prison.
However, the laws have failed to show their complete impact. In October this year, the Health Ministry of Egypt announced that it plans to launch a crackdown campaign on physicians involved in performing the barbaric act on girls, which indeed is the need of the hour. Considering the large scale of FGM prevalent in Egypt, stricter implementation of laws and a stringent punishment for evaders should solve a great part of the problem. Also needed is spread of awareness among the people, most importantly females and medical staff of Egypt to stop being a participant in FGM unless it is medically necessary.