On May 30th Egyptian Dar Al-Iftaa declared female genital cutting (FGC), or female genital mutilation (FGM) religiously forbidden in Islam.
Dar Al-Iftaa states that because of the harmful effects FGC causes to the body, cutting is anti-religious. It is now considered an attack on religion because part of the Islamic faith is to protect the body, therefore mutilation it antithetical to that belief.
According to a 2014 study by UNICEF, Ninety-one percent of women ages 15 to 49 have undergone the procedure in Egypt. A staggering 80 percent of those women are 15 years old or younger.
Female circumcision falls under a human rights violation because a medical procedure is being performed without necessity or true medical justification.
Some problems that occur with post-procedure is severe bleeding and infection, urine retention, childbirth-related complications, hemorrhage, etc.
Analysts theorize that this practice is another attempt to have rights over women’s bodies, sexualization and reproductive capacities.
To combat this, The United Nations and Egyptian government plan to work together in efforts to eradicate the harmful practice.
“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 Egyptian Minister of Health, Ahmed Emed, composed 6 comprehensive steps that must be taken in order to see complete eradication of FGC in Egypt by 2030.
- 1 Criminalizing FGM in the penal code; it should be punishable by imprisonment.
- The Attorney General should record these crimes as a reference in the investigation of FGM incidents.
- Hospitals are required to inform the police when they receive female circumcision cases.
- Ministry of Health’s sectors are required to carry out training programs and educational programs on the law, covering the penalties and negative consequences of circumcision.
- Implementation of the Supreme Council of Universities’ approval in 2017 to add an educational material against the crime of FGM in the curriculum of obstetrics students in medical school programs.
- The commitment of all ministries and agencies to integrate the curriculum against FGM within their training and service programs.
Dar Al-Iftaa stresses that this ban is in the best interest of the Egyptian women and people. If bodily removal is in fact a necessity, then a medical professional should be in charge of deciding that.
What is FGC and Why Does it Exist?
Female genital mutilation is a procedure in which some or all of the outer parts of female genitalia is removed. Three different procedures for the surgery exist. The first totally or partially removes the prepuce. Type 2 involves total or partial removal of the inner labia. The last option is the complete removal of all external genitalia and fusion of the wound.
It is often performed by a prominent female figure in the girl’s life or a “professional cutter”. The girls legs will be bound together as the procedure occurs, usually within a communal hut where multiple young women will also undergo the procedure.
In some historical instances it was used in order to treat psychological disorders, but it is now an attempt to control the sexual desires of girls and women.
According to the article International Social Work, Female Genital Cutting: African Women Speak Out by Khadija Khaja,“Most respondents believe that their parents had them undergo FGC because it was an integral part of Somali culture, a way of showing that their daughter was honorable and chaste”. However, neither of those reasons are valid, which is why it is considered a human rights violation.
As a rite of passage, it is an incredibly significant cultural practice to the women who experience it.