The Senate – Egypt's consultative upper house – ratified on Sunday a draft law toughening the penalty for female genital mutilation (FGM) to up to 20 years imprisonment instead of the previous maximum of seven years.
The 300-member Senate said the amendment of Law No. 58 of 1937 comes to deter the phenomenon of FGM, calling it a crime that violates the human body and negatively impacts the moral and basic standards of society.
The Egyptian cabinet approved the amendments in January.
The amendments set a minimum of five years in prison for removing, modifying, or mutilating a part of a female’s genitals, and a minimum of seven years if the procedure causes permanent damage.
Doctors and nurses can face 10 years in prison if they perform the procedure and it results in permanent damage.
If a victim dies from undergoing FGM, then the perpetrator can face 10 years in prison if they are not a medical practitioner, and 15 to 20 years if they are a doctor or nurse.
Those convicted of performing circumcision would be disallowed from practicing their profession for five years and the institution where the circumcision was performed would be closed.
The amendments also state that the person upon whose request the circumcision is carried out also will also face a prison sentence.
Those who promote, encourage, or incite others to commit FGM will also face prison terms, even if their actions do not directly lead to the crime being committed.
This is the second time authorities have toughened penalties for FGM (also known as female circumcision) in six years, and the decision comes one year after a teenager died in Upper Egypt while being subjected to the procedure.