File Photo: A counselor holds up cards used to educate women about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Upper Egypt- Minya (Photo: Reuters)
The number of younger people who favour and practice female genital mutilation (FGM) is declining in Egypt, according to the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) conducted in 2014.
The WHO defines FGM as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”
The survey shows the total percentage of married females who have experienced FGM aged between 15 and 49 reaches a whopping 90 percent, but the percentage aged 15 to 17 is 61 percent, a decline of 13 percent compared with surveys conducted in 2008.
It credits this decline to the FGM Abandonment and Family Empowerment Program.
Other indicators show a decline in the support of women for FGM in comparison with other surveys that were conducted since the year 2000.
Back then support stood at 75 percent, and now, according to the 2014 survey, it has dropped to 58 percent.
Governorates like Damietta and Port Said will witness an expected decline in the number of FGM cases to 10 to 11 percent of girls in the age bracket of 0-19.
A considerable decline has also also been noticed in some governorates in Upper Egypt.
In a press release on the report issued by the UN office in Cairo, Egyptian Minister of Population Hala Youssef said that the decline in FGM in the age bracket of 15-17 is a clear result of the various initiatives and media campaigns on the ground, as well as law enforcement efforts.
In a case that made headlines in the last two years, a doctor who performed FGM on Sohair El-Batei, resulting in her death, was sentenced in January 2015 to two years in prison – the first prison sentence for this crime in Egypt – and the father also received a suspended three months jail sentence.
Youssef said that her primary source of concern remains not the number of FGM cases, as these, she said, will continue to decline with upcoming generations who think differently than those born in the sixties and seventies, but rather that 80 percent of these criminalised procedures are performed by health service providers, who are fully aware that FGM is a clear violation of the 'Ethical and Professional Charter for Physicians'.