Feb 08, 2021
New Woman Foundation Statement on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Egypt responds to the accumulated efforts of feminist pressure groups and civil society. The cabinet adopts draft amendments to the penal code that criminalizes the medicalization and incitement of female genital mutilation. We still have many steps ahead to guarantee protection of young girls and affirm that cultural change.

On the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, we are pleased by the Prime Minister’s announcement a few weeks ago to adopt legislative amendments in the Penal Code regarding the criminalization of the medicalization of female genital mutilation, and the imposition of escalating penalties of what is considered “the most recent permanent disability”, or the practice of medicine that led to death. Even if the process of female genital mutilation went “well”, the amendments still apply because it is still considered a traumatic experience. We consider the cabinet’s decision, as a whole, a remarkable step forward that improves the performance of national public policies against female genital mutilation, which has been called for, for decades, by feminist pressure groups and civil society in Egypt.

We still have many steps ahead to eliminate the practice of female genital mutilation, the most important of which is to guarantee protection of stakeholders. This includes facilitating the reporting mechanism for everyone who practiced the crime of medical genital mutilation, whether doctors or practitioners of the medical service, which requires expanding the circle of stakeholders in submitting reports from witnesses or informants directly or indirectly related to the parties involved in the crime. This also requires the protection of their privacy of data.

We encourage setting up an effective and enforceable inspection mechanism from the Ministry of Health, which includes careful inspection of hospitals, private and charitable clinics, to track the flaws in the practice of secretly practicing genital mutilation in examination and operation rooms. We also encourage activating the amendment proposal to stop the demise of the practice of the profession in the medical institutions involved in the crime. We also confirm our repeated call for the need to activate the role of the Doctors Syndicate, its disciplinary committees, and the removal of doctors involved in the crime from its records.

We emphasize the importance of adopting a human rights discourse and feminist approach in media awareness campaigns. We emphasize knocking on doors for health visitors and others, concerning the importance of protecting the reproductive and sexual rights of girls, and working to change the stereotypical vision about the nature of gender roles in the family.

Statistical surveys on different youth groups indicated the growing approval of female genital mutilation among young age groups, especially adolescents, which confirms the need to adopt curricula for sexual education for adolescents of both sexes in schools, youth centers, cultural palaces and other forums concerned with educational and social upbringing. We also recall the importance of re-conducting the comprehensive health survey, after its discontinuation, due to the inability to bridge the data gap between the sexes and prevent measuring the impact of the policy interventions taken to stop female genital mutilation.

On the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, it has become a necessity to uncover comprehensive interventions that should include education, culture, media, freedom of civil work and others to continue to combat female genital mutilation, and to enable quantitative and qualitative follow-up and evaluation efforts in accordance with the 2030 development plan strategy, and indicators to achieve the sustainable development goals.