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Egypt: Outcry Against Female Genital Mutilation

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After the death of a young girl in upper Egypt during a botched circumcision, women and doctors in Cairo launched a number of protests in recent days to decry the practice, which has been officially outlawed since 2008. A crowd of mostly women took to the streets of Cairo to protest the enduring but now illegal practice of female circumcision. Egypt has the largest percentage of circumcised women of any country in the world.
The protests began after 12-year-old Nada Hassan Abdel Maqsoud died from a botched circumcision in the Upper Egypt town of Assyout. Both the girl’s father and uncle were arrested and held for questioning for four days, along with the retired doctor who performed the procedure.
Since 2003, at least six Egyptian young women have died as a result of being circumcised.
Writer and sociologist Nawal Sadawi decried the practice at a recent women’s forum. She said that circumcising women is ghastly, both medically, socially and psychologically. It is deceitful, she said, to cut off a part of a girl’s body on the pretext of morality.
Dr. George Nashed, who heads the good practices committee of the Egyptian Doctors’ Syndicate, told Egyptian media that female circumcision continues, despite having been outlawed in 2008. He said that Egyptian law now bans the procedure, but it remains a customary practice, even if it is not based in religion. He said the practice is less common in Cairo, but widespread in the provinces and villages.
More than 87% of Egyptian women from ages 15 to 49 are circumcised. The figure is almost as high in Sudan. By contrast, only 18.5% of Yemeni women and just 7.4% of Iraqi women are circumcised.