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Egyptian MP on Health Committee Defends FGM

15 July, 2016
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While debates are ongoing to alter the laws concerning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Egypt, turning it from a misdemeanor to a felony, one MP, a doctor on the Health Committee, defended the internationally condemned act.

"We should refer to those who know more about religion, and those who know more about science," MP Ahmed El Tahawy told BECAUSE. Referring to some of Prophet Mohammed's sayings, El Tahawy stated that FGM is "of honor" and should be done under complete medical supervision.

"If they prove me wrong, I will retract my declaration," El Tahawy told BECAUSE.

The MP's position implies that FGM is encouraged by religion. Asking him whether people should follow scientific or religious thought on the matter, the MP stands by religion. "We follow men of religion, and their opinions are to be adhered to," he stated.

The MP had told Parlamany that leaving a girl untouched by the procedure is wrong, while stating that overdoing it is also incorrect.

Considered in many contexts a violation of human and women's rights, FGM is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) 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."

According to United Nations Women, FGM can have dire consequences on physical and mental health. FGM results in blood loss and severe pain, cause urine infections, fistula, infertility, problems during childbirth, increased risk of HIV/AIDS infection and death. FGM can stop sexual enjoyment for young women. Traumatizing, the practice can leave young women scared, embarrassed and distressed.

In May, a seventeen year-old died in a Suez hospital while under full anaesthesia to undergo FGM. The girl's mother, who is a nurse, the anaesthesiologist, and two hospital officials are currently on trial.

From a societal perspective, the UN stated that the practice of FGM controls girls and young women, as it reinforces their lower position in society and gives others power over them and their bodies. "FGM can limit the life choices of girls and young women," the UN asserts.

Despite the fact that the practice was criminalized in Egypt in 2008, around 92% of Egyptian women who have been married have undergone FGM, according to a recent survey from the Ministry of Health's 2014 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS). A 2013 UNICEF report stated that Egypt had the highest number of women and girls who had had FGM procedures: 27.2 million.
The practice has been difficult to eradicate, and has been performed in Egypt for centuries.

"Laws are not like the Qur'an. They can be amended and changed," the doctor argued.

Image: marta ... maduixaaaa / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Tags MENA Egypt Because FGM Female genital mutilation Health CSR social enterprise NGO volunteer Ahmed El Tanahy WHO UNICEF