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Wednesday, 01 October 2008 18:07

Egypt continues cruel circumcision practice on girls

Even though the government of Egypt banned female genital mutilation (FGM) six years ago, it still happens frequently, according to a new study undertaken by American and Egyptian researchers.

Mohamed Bedaiwy, who is associated with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (Ohio, U.S.A.) led the study that was written up in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online (volume 16, supplement 1, 2008).

The paper is entitled “Prevalence of female genital cutting in Upper Egypt: 6 years after enforcement of prohibition law.”

Bedaiwy was joined in the study by R. Saleh (Sohag University, Egypt), A.A. Bedaiwy (Helwan University, Egypt), R.S. Peterson (Cleveland Clinic Foundation), and M.A. Bedaiwy (Cleveland Clinic Foundation).

The purpose of their study was to find if female genital cutting (FGC) in Upper Egypt still occurred after a federal prohibition law was put into place six years ago.

FGC, also called female genital mutilation (FGM) and female circumcision, is defined as the various procedures used to partially or totally remove the external female genitalia or to injure the female genital organs. FGM is generally performed for cultural, religious, or other non-medical reasons.

The researchers studied 3,730 Egyptian girls between the ages of 10 and 14 years who were primarily in preparatory school in three rural areas and three urban areas.

Page two continues the reporting of this cruel practice in Egypt.

They asked social workers to question the girls as to whether or not they had undergone female circumcision over the past six years.

Subsequent to the interviews, questionnaires were sent to the parents of the girls who answered positive for circumcision. They were asked questions relating to the procedure.

The researchers found that 84.9% of the girls had had circumcision performed within the last six years. The girls in the rural areas had the procedure performed 92.5% of the time.

The parents stated various reasons as to why the circumcision was performed.

However, the primary reason for the circumcisions, as reported by New Scientist magazine, was “to comply with religious and traditional beliefs and curb the sexual drive of their daughters.” [New Scientist: “The abuse goes on.” (September 20-26, 2008, page 4)

In addition, the study also found that 64.15% of the circumcisions were performed by non-medical personnel.

The conclusion of the study stated, according to the paper’s abstract, “This study’s results indicate that the practice of FGC in Upper Egypt remains high despite enforcement of law. Extensive efforts are needed both to revise public awareness and to change attitudes regarding FGC.”

Page three reports on efforts by international groups to end this cruel and inhumane pracice.

New Scientist magazine reports, based on this study, that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates three million girls undergo FGM in Africa each year.

Dr. Bedaiwy stated within the New Scientist article, “Female genital cutting is a deep-rooted practice in Egyptian culture, and it will take more than a law to change it.”

Paul Van Look, an official with WHO, stated within the New Scientist article that the only way to end FGM in Africa is to counsel parents and religious leaders.

Look states that a "collective, coordinated effort” must be made within each community in Africa “to abandon the practice so that no single girl or family is disadvantaged by the decision.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made a concerted efforts over the past several decades to end the practice of FGC. Please go to to this WHO website to read various articles on FGM.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) has made February 6 of each year the “International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation.”

Information about the work of the UNPF is found at the website “International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation: Message of Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA (06 February 2008).”

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