Egypt joined international human rights activists this week to appeal to the United Nations to pass a ban on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) , asking that it be recognised and condemned as a violation of the human right to physical integrity. A United Nations ban would give new strength and impetus to the efforts that are still needed to end the practice worldwide.
According to Minister of State for Family and Population Moushira Khattab, who has signed the appeal on behalf of Egypt, this week's actions are directed at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly, which convenes soon. The passing of a UN resolution would be " a call upon all governments, international and regional organisations to support and promote the adoption of this Resolution in 2010,” Khattab said, saying that an end must be put to the widespread and systematic violence committed against women and girls through FGM.
So far, 45 countries have signed the appeal, including the United States of America, Sweden, United Kingdom, Australia, Canda, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Uganda, Benin, South Africa, Sudan, Italy, Sierra Leone, Togo and Netherlands. The number is expected to double within the coming few days.
FGM operations are currently carried out in 26 African and Arab countries, among them Egypt, Sudan and Yemen. Eighty percent of poor and 30 percent of wealthy Egyptian families subject their girls to FGM.
In 2005, Egypt passed its first documented declaration rejecting female genital mutilation, which is most prevalent in villages. The declaration was adopted by National Council for Childhood and Motherhood’s (NCCM) national programme under the auspices of Egypt's First Lady Suzanne Mubarak.
In 2007 the Health Ministry issued the decree no. 271 banning all doctors and nurses from carrying out any FGM operations at any of the ministry’s hospitals or private clinics. According to Abdel-Rahman Shahin, official spokesman of the Ministry of Health, the ministerial decree stipulates that whoever violates the decree will have his/her private clinic shut down, and may be subjected to a suspension from practicing medicine of up to five years.