Licensed Doctors Perform 76% Of Egypt’s FGM: Health Ministry

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Licensed doctors perform 76% of Egypt’s FGM: Health Ministry
Hanan Fayed
The Cairo Post, Mar. 2, 2015
Also available on the Cairo Post website

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CAIRO: Some 76 percent of girls undergo female genital mutilation at the hands of licensed doctors, despite its illegality, whereas midwives circumcise only 22 percent, according to a population health survey issued by the Ministry of Health Sunday.

Although there is an apparent shift in seeking doctors rather than midwives, the figures also reveal that both government and privately-employed physicians agree to perform FGM, which was banned in 2008.

“A new, strict strategy” must be set to counter the phenomenon of doctors performing FGM over girls by, for one, enhancing supervision by the Medical Syndicate and the Ministry of Health over public and private clinics, the Health Ministry report recommended.

The government has not allocated a budget for combating the practice, rapporteur of the Population Council Atef al-Shitani told Youm7 Sunday, adding that raising awareness relies on foreign grants.

A majority of 70 percent of girls who are subjected to cutting undergo through the experience between 9 and 14 years of age; 23 percent are cut between 15 and 25, and 7 percent undergo FGM younger than eight years old, according to the report.

Women recalling the experience often label it as a “dark day,” Shitani said.

FGM in Egypt

Egypt has the largest number of women who have been subjected to genital cutting in the world, according to the World Health Organization. A 45 percent-decline among girls age 15-17 is expected over 15 years, according to the 2008 Egyptian Demographic Health Survey (EDHS.)

EDHS reported that 91.1 percent of women from ages 15-49 have experienced FGM, and that 74 percent of girls age 15-17 have undergone the practice, marking a reduction from previous surveys.

Parties involved in a girl’s genital mutilation face a prison term of three months to two years or a fine of 1,000 to 5,000 EGP.

The first application of the penalty only took place in January 2014, where a doctor who circumcised a 13-year-old girl was sentenced to two years in prison after she died of complications in 2013. The doctor had been acquitted in a previous ruling, but prosecutors appealed the sentence.

Dar al-Iftaa, Egypt’s official entity issuing religious opinions, decreed in 2007 that the practice, which is followed by both Muslims and Christians, was “un-Islamic and forbidden.”

“Banning [female] circumcision has faced a lot of opposition from those with weak knowledge in Egypt, especially those who live in rural areas and slums,” head of the preaching department of the Islamic Research Academy Abdel Aziz al-Naggar told Hayat TV on the occasion of the U.N.-designated day of Zero Tolerance for FGM Feb. 7.

Naggar labeled the practice as a “gruesome, inherited custom.”