Egypt: Protecting the rights of girls

Reem Leila , Friday 2 Aug 2019

Reem Leila reports on the latest round of the campaign to eradicate FGM

Protecting the rights of girls

Protect her against FGM, a three-day initiative launched on 29 July by the National Council for Women (NCW), ends today. The door-to-door nationwide campaign to end female genital mutilation (FGM) was devised by the National Committee for the Eradication of Female Genital Mutilation under the auspices of both the NCW and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM).

For years the government has been working to reduce FGM. In 2007 the Ministry of Health and Population banned FGM in all public hospitals. Medical staff involved in the practice face severe penalties, with doctors automatically dismissed from the Doctors Syndicate.

A study by the Ministry of Health and Population showed that FGM among 15-17 year-olds decreased from 74 per cent in 2008 to 61 per cent in 2014. The fall was lent impetus by amendments to the law criminalising FGM and mandating strict sentences for those convicted of involvement in the procedure.

Doctors and nurses who practise FGM can be imprisoned for up to seven years. Parents who seek to commission the circumcision of their daughters can face up to three years behind bars. In instances where the patient dies or suffers permanent disability, those involved can be imprisoned for life.

NCW President Maya Morsi says the campaign was designed to raise people’s awareness of the dangers of the practice.

“We have the support of the political leadership in countering all forms of violence against women. We are all committed to enforcing the law and meeting our international commitments, in line with Egypt’s strategic Vision 2030,” she said.

The door-to-door campaign was preceded by a training and awareness programme for team members during which the methodologies to be used when dealing with the targeted population were explained.

Azza Al-Ashmawi, secretary-general of the NCCM, says the campaign organisers were determined to reach the target groups and the total eradication of FGM is the ultimate goal. Staff are trained in the health, psychological, religious and legal dimensions of the issue so they can serve as ambassadors in their governorates, raising people’s awareness about the serious consequences of the practice.

FGM, says Al-Ashmawi, violates the basic rights of girls to a healthy life and dignity. The child rescue hotline 16000 continues to receive inquiries and complaints about FGM. Al-Ashmawi urged people to call the hotline if they are seeking advice or information, and to report perpetrators.

 *A version of this article appears in print in the 31 July, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Protecting the rights of girls

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