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The end of the female genital mutilation: A victory for Egyptian women

Khaled Montaser

Published: Updated:

The Egyptian cabinet approved a draft law that will harshen the penalty for female genital mutilation. The amendments stipulate that “imprisonment shall be the penalty inflicted on whoever promotes, encourages, or advocates, in one of the methods set forth in Article (171), to commit the crime of female genital mutilation even if the action does not result in an effect.”

This is the greatest and most important phrase stated in the draft law discussed by the Egyptian Cabinet to amend some provisions of the Penal Code promulgated by Law No. 58 of 1937, to establish a deterrent punishment for crimes of female genital mutilation.

We have long waited to hear such a phrase. As all previous punishments merely focused on the midwife or the doctor who performed these barbaric operations, and often neglected to penalize the cleric or preacher who used his influence and social platforms to incite and encourage female genital mutilation using false hadiths, not to mention neglecting to hold charlatan doctors accountable, like the doctor who showed no empathy whatsoever and went on talk shows discussing the scientific miracle of circumcision and how there is research in American and Burkina Faso universities on the benefits of circumcision, even though he is fully aware that there is no scientific evidence of such a thing in the medical field.

What those figures call female circumcision is in fact called female genital mutilation. The absence of such a phrase is what allowed Sheikh Yusef al-Badri, along with a gynecology specialist, to file a lawsuit against Dr. Ali Abdel Fattah, the Health Minister at the time, due to the actions he took towards criminalizing female genital mutilation by placing penalties and punishments on doctors who performed such operations.

This draft law is a great legal victory, and Prime Minister Dr. Mustafa Madbouly, deserves the gratitude of every Egyptian woman who escaped from the clutches of this barbaric procedure due to his efforts.

The rest of the legal articles are also great deterrents, and must be known to every Egyptian family, and they are as follows:

“Whoever performs circumcision of a female by removing part of her genitals, or modifying, mutilating, or inflicting injuries to those organs shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of no less than five years. Permanent disability resulting from the act is punished by hard labor for no less than seven years. If the act leads to death, the punishment is hard labor for a period of not less than ten years.”

An Egyptian woman holds a banner as she marches in Cairo to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2013. (File photo: AFP)
An Egyptian woman holds a banner as she marches in Cairo to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2013. (File photo: AFP)

After this amendment, the mere act of performing the procedure is enough to get the perpetrators sentenced even if the act does not result in a disability. Furthermore, there is no longer any tolerance for using vague and elusive expressions such as beautification, shortening or trimming the genitals...etc.

The amendment also stipulates that the punishment shall be aggravated imprisonment if the individual performing the circumcision was a doctor or nurse practitioner. If their crime resulted in a permanent disability, the penalty shall be hard labor for a period of not less than ten years, but if the act resulted in death, the punishment shall be hard labor for a period no less than 15 years and not exceeding 20 years.

According to the amendment, the court shall rule, in addition to the aforementioned penalties, to suspend the perpetrator from their position for a period not exceeding five years. Any private facility in which the circumcision was performed shall be closed for a period not exceeding five years, and if it is licensed, the period of closure is equal to the professional suspension period.

All the facility’s banners and signs shall be removed. As a result of this law, doctors can no longer hide behind their white lab coats or use misleading information to justify their heinous crimes.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, Egyptian outlet ElWatan News.

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