Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1435, (21 - 27 March 2019)
Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Issue 1435, (21 - 27 March 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Plans to combat FGM

Eliminating FGM by 2025 is in the works, reports Mariam Amr

 

Plans to combat FGM
Plans to combat FGM

The government is intensifying efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM), with the end goal being to eliminate it by the end of 2025 through a combination of law enforcement, creating awareness and correcting misconceptions.

A meeting was recently held to evaluate a 2016-2020 national plan to eradicate FGM and draw up a new strategy for the next phase.

Amr Hassan, rapporteur of the National Population Council (NCP), urged doctors not to give in to parents wishing to circumcise their daughters. Hassan told Al-Ahram Weekly that doctors should adhere to medical ethics and not carry out the procedure because of the physical and psychological damage it causes. Hassan said he believed that doctors should help change the misconceptions held by parents. He added that 82 per cent of circumcisions in Egypt are carried out by doctors.

According to the 2014 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey, about 92 per cent of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 were circumcised. More than half of unmarried women were circumcised between seven and 10 years of age. Circumcision was performed before the age of 15 on almost all the women.

Hassan added that beliefs and traditions strongly influence the continuation of FGM despite tough new laws. According to the 2014 survey, more than half the women believe FGM is required according to the teachings of religion as a form of purification. Therefore, Hassan said, the way to go is to raise awareness, pointing out that the NCP, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, is launching a campaign to inspect hospitals and private clinics to ensure they do not perform the surgery.

In 2016, amendments were made to the law. The penalty for performing the procedure was extended from imprisonment between three months and two years, or a fine of between LE1,000-LE5,000, to between five to seven years jail.

Anyone seeking to perform female circumcision will be jailed for between one to three years.

The psychological effects of circumcision include depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other psychological illnesses, according to Gamal Farwiz, a psychologist at the Military Medical Academy.

“Families should distance themselves from old customs and listen to what science and religion have to say,” Farwiz told the Weekly.

Gamal Abu Al-Sorour, head of the Egyptian Fertility and Sterility Society (EFSS) and the Islamic Centre for Population Research and Studies in Al-Azhar, said the procedure has no basis in religion and is a practice which may cause serious damage. Al-Sorour highlighted health complications which could include severe bleeding during the operation, leading to psychological trauma or death, severe infections, abscesses, urinary retention, anal fistula, infertility and sexual problems.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that about 125 million women in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East are suffering from the consequences of FGM.

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