Despite the ongoing practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Egypt’s Health Ministry announced that the rate of teenage FGM has fallen from 74 percent in 2008 to 61 percent in 2014.
The ministry released a statement marking Day of Zero Tolerance, a United Nations annual awareness day that has been taking place on 6 February since 2003, for FGM stating that government policies and awareness campaigns have contributed to the decrease in the overall percentage of FGM practices in Egypt.
FGM is the crime of “intentionally altering or causing injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” which is still being practiced, according to World Health Organisation (WHO). FGM practices leave girls suffering from emotional trauma and physical harm.
Till this day, more than 125 million girls and women alive have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated, according to WHO. In Egypt, around 9 in 10 women aged 15-49 have undergone the procedure, according to the 2015 Egypt Health Issues Survey (EHIS).
Despite the fact that criminalizing FGM is no news, Egyptian across Egypt still debate its alleged health benefits.
The practice has been outlawed in Egypt since the year 2008, but social norms ensure that the practice is still widespread. Structuring female sexuality is embedded in social and cultural practices to allegedly protect a girl’s marriageability.
In 2016, an Egyptian member of parliament Elhamy Agina has encouraged women to undergo FGM to “reduce their sexual desires” to match that of Egypt’s “sexually weak” men, Parlmany reported.
Efforts by the interntional community have helped in the spread of awareness against such practice. Egypt is among 17 African countries the UN is focusing on to help abandon any kind of FGM. In May 2016, a girl in Suez Governorate died during an FGM operation. Her mother was given a one-year suspended prison sentence.
FGM is not a gender specific topic; both men and women have a role to play to stop FGM.