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Published On: Thu, Jul 25th, 2013

Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood highlighted in UNICEF report on female genital mutilation

UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, has issued a new report on FGM/C, female genital mutilation/cutting, that raises troubling questions about the practice and the American response to it, particularly in nations such as Egypt.

“Girls and women are made to have their external genitalia removed fully or partially– some when they are just infants, others when they hit puberty,” explains UNICEF, “in the name of preserving female honour, chastity, beauty, ensuring their marriageability.” Kheiriya Abidi, a 10-year-old Somali girl is “terrified of the blood, the pain and physical torture she will have to suffer if her genitals are cut.”

female genital mutilation graphic UNICEF reportAs another description notes, untrained practitioners do the cutting with instruments such as broken glass, tin lids, scissors or unsterilized razors, and without anesthesia. This causes intense pain and trauma, and poses health risk such as HIV transmission, and worse.

UNICEF notes that more mothers are now aware that “FGM/C can lead to their daughter’s, or a girl’s, death.” 

The report finds a “sharp decline” in FGM/C in numerous countries. Among adolescent girls in Benin, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Liberia and Nigeria, FGM/C has dropped by as much as half.

All told, female genital mutilation has been inflicted on more than 125 million women and girls, roughly equivalent to the entire population of Japan.

Nearly half of the victims reside in Ethiopia and Egypt, a country much in the news.

UNICEF explains that FGM/C is not an Islamic custom, not in the Quran, and not practiced by many Islamic communities. But female genital mutilation and cutting remains prevalent in Egypt, an Islamic country where about 80 percent of women aged 15 to 19 have been cut compared to 96 percent of women in their late 40s. By these numbers, the vast majority of Egyptian woman and girls are victims of female genital mutilation, performed in Egypt by a trained physician in more than 75 percent of cases.

In 2008, under Hosni Mubarak, Egypt criminalized all forms of FGM and the number of mutilated girls dropped by about one third. But the rise of Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood canceled those gains. Under Mohamed Morsi, the courts rejected challenges to FGM/C. Nehad Abud Komsan, director of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, explained that the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist politicians “are destroying years of efforts to protect girls and women in Egypt and, unfortunately, by using religion.”

Geeta Rao Gupta, deputy executive director of UNICEF, charges that “FGM/C is a violation of a girl’s rights to health, well-being and self-determination.” She says that “legislation alone is not enough” and wants “this harmful practice” abandoned. So for UNICEF female genital mutilation is a human rights issue — this from an agency of the United Nations, which generally performs poorly on the human rights front in the Middle East and Africa.

 

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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