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Bikya Masr - September 7, 2012

Gynecologists representing members of The Egyptian Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Egyptian Universities, Ministry of Health and Population Hospitals, Teaching Hospitals, Military and Police Hospitals issued a declaration in the wake of recent convocation to perform Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and refused calls to repeal the law prohibiting and criminalizing practitioners who perform it, the United Nations said in a statement.

As a result, the UN office in Cairo is holding a press conference on September 10 to address these recent events.

It is the latest battle between those who have called for an end to FGM in the country and those who continue to push for its legality.

The ancient practice is forced upon millions of women around the world, most notably in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

FGM aims to keep girls “pure” and take away their ability to enjoy their own body, all in the name of virtue.

The practice hits almost 86 percent of women in Egypt, yet great progress was achieved through campaigning and education and many communities in rural and conservative areas to put an end to the practice that was handed down generation after another. Strong legislation followed and FGM was banned and considered a criminal act.

Doctors or medical staff engaging in the practice would be banned from practicing medicine and could serve time in jail if the surgery goes bad. It usually does.

In June 2007, the news of Bodour Shakour’s death, a 12-year-old girl who died on the operating table, woke the nation up. She was being circumcised and was given an extra dose of anesthetic and never woke up again. We were faced with the fact that no matter how strong our legal penalties are, it is down to families to grasp the inhumanity of the practice. The young girl’s death drove Egyptian activists to campaign again.

Shakour’s death galvanized women and children’s rights groups to action, where they pushed for more stringent penalties against those who carry out female genital mutilation.

Yet the battle seems far from over.

In the new Egypt, the proud country whose women and men brought down the old regime to its knees, jailed its dictator and is continuing to campaign for rights, in the midst of all that, Egyptian women are again anxious that statements and actions by the country’s Muslim Brotherhood, who dominated the now dissolved parliament, and still have much political weight in the country, could see a return to the legalization of female genital mutilation. In early May, women’s advocates’ fears were increased further after reports of the Brotherhood employing mobile clinics in the center of the country that advised women on the importance of FGM for their daughters.

Human rights groups and women’s organizations lashed out at the Islamic group, submitting legal cases against the organization to the Attorney General’s office over the “mobile FGM” clinics. They called on the prosecutor to investigate the complaints from people in the Minya governorate, some 200 miles south of Cairo.

Despite the request from the newly re-established National Council for Women (NCW), the prosecutor’s office has not moved, activists say, and as Egypt’s future remaining uncertain, women’s rights are again under threat.

The “mobile convoys” were first reported and circulated on local news websites and social networking websites, including Facebook and Twitter about a convoy organized by the FJP to promote circumcision among girls in Minya.

In Egypt’s legal code, Female Genital Mutilation is criminalized, as well as the inciting by doctors to convince families of the young girls of the need to agree to circumcise their daughters, “as a matter of preserving chastity.”

Mervat Tallawy, the head of the NCW, held a meeting shortly after the reports went public with the governor of Minya to discuss the mechanisms of organizing awareness campaigns and seminars for women in the governorate, on how to address and fight against female genital mutilation, “which is being carried out by the FJP in the governorate.”

Tallawy called on the governor to combat such operations, and to “coordinate with the council in any issue related to women.”

The Council said it would not stand silent and will “combat these calls, which is an affront to Egyptian women, especially since the law criminalizes this act,” pointing out that the attempts by some to ignore this law and the abolition of the law that bans FGM.

The council added that “the call for female circumcision is totally unacceptable.”

Tension over FGM in Egypt began in February, when then Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, saw member of Parliament Azza al-Garf call for the legalization of FGM.

On her personal Twitter account, the MP called for lifting the laws that criminalize FGM. She added that it was the “Islamic” thing to do to protect one’s daughters “honor.” The statements stirred criticism, and struck more worry into women’s rights advocates in the country.

Her statement brought a flurry of action from local rights groups, including the New Women Foundation. “We are on our way to sue Garf to preserve our rights and the gains of Egyptian women,” said the open letter to the speaker.

“We are suing her for going against Egyptian laws that criminalize sexual harassment and FGM, practices that goes against women rights and human rights.

“We completely refuse Garf’s statements and announce that she does not represent us.”

“It is not uncommon to find women campaigning for FGM, going against the wellbeing of other women,” added the open letter.

“It is the mothers who make the arraignments for the surgery and she has to be the one that explains why to her young girl.”

Rights surveys in the country put the number of women who go through FGM to be around 86 percent. Current Egyptian law bans the practice and gives prison sentences to any medical staff who performs the surgery. However, many families go to underground clinics to get their daughters the procedure, risking permanent scares or even death.

Altri articoli su:
[ Africa ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ] [ Egitto ] [ Medio Oriente ] [ ONU ] [ Stop FGM! ]

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[ Africa ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ] [ Egitto ] [ Medio Oriente ] [ ONU ] [ Stop FGM! ]

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[ Africa ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ] [ Egitto ] [ Medio Oriente ] [ ONU ] [ Stop FGM! ]

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