Egypt: Government Efforts to Medicalize Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Not an update
1995 Mar 1

On 29 October 1994, the Egyptian Minister of Health issued a decree which seeks to medicalize female genital mutilation (FGM) by designating a number of selected hospitals to perform the operation for a fee of LE10 (approximately US $3). The decree represents a turnaround on the part of the Health Minister, Ali Abdel Fatah, who publicly stated at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in September 1994, that the practice of FGM should be banned and that those who perform it should be punished.

What You Can Do: 

Support the efforts of women's organizations in Egypt to spread awareness and to work towards the complete eradication of female genital mutilation. Send letters and petitions appealing for the revocation of the Ministerial decree of 29 October 1994, which condones and medicalizes female genital mutilation in Egypt. Express concern over the harmful physical and psychological consequences of female genital mutilation on young girls in Egypt and note the statement made by the Grand Mufti of Egypt that one should defer to the opinion of doctors. Urge government authorities to honor the pledge made by the Minister of Health at the International Conference on Population and Development to ban female genital mutilation and to take legal action against those who perform it. Appeals should be addressed to the Egyptian Ambassador to your country, and to:

His Excellency Muhammed Hosni Mubarak
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
'Abedine Palace
Cairo, Egypt
Telegrams: President Mubarak, Cairo, Egypt
Telexes: 93794 WAZRA UN

His Excellency Dr. Ali Abdel Fatah
Minister of Health
Ministry of Health
Magles El Shaab Street
Cairo, Egypt

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): UNICEF's failure to fund efforts to stop FGM

Not an update
1993 Nov 1

An estimated 100 million girls and women around the world have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM takes different forms in different countries: the cutting of the hood of the clitoris (circumcision), the removal of the entire clitoris (excision), or in its most extreme form the removal of all external genitalia and the stitching together of the two sides of the vulva, leaving only a very small vaginal opening (infibulation).

What You Can Do: 

Join the struggle against FGM and support its front line of grassroots activists by writing and sending petitions to Mr. James Grant, Executive Director of UNICEF, at 3 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA. Express concern over the lack of UNICEF resources for a practice which so severely injures, and in many cases, kills, so many children around the world. Urge Mr. Grant to allocate and earmark UNICEF funds for the work of grassroots activists fighting to eradicate FGM in their countries.

"However much a little girl may want to be excised because all other girls of her own age have been done, or because she has been persuaded that it is the right thing to have done, this does not mean that she doesn't suffer excruciating pain. Similarly, she feels that violence is being done to her body; she is conscious of suffering a physical injury, of being maimed in some way. Whatever other people may claim, what she experiences is a mutilation, even if she has heard it repeated time and time again that her clitoris is a masculine element which has no place in her body and so must be removed." (Awa Thiam, Black Sisters Speak Out)

This poem on female genital mutliation (FGM) won first prize in a poetry competition for female poets of Benadir. It and the statement above were provided to Equality Now by the Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development (FORWARD), an international human rights organization based in London and working for the eradication of FGM.

Dahabo Elmi Muse
Pharaoh, who was cursed by God
Who did not hear the preaching of Moses
Who was led astray from the good word of Torah
Hell was his reward!
Drowning was his fate!
The style of their circumcision,
butchering, bleeding, veins dripping with blood!
Cutting, sewing and tailoring the flesh!
This loathsome act never been cited by Prophet nor
acknowledged by the Hadith!
Non-existing in Abu Hureyra.
No Muslim ever preached it!
Past or present the Koran never preached
it (Pharaonic circumcision)
And if I may think of my wedding night,
awaiting me was caresses, sweet,
kisses, hugging and love.
No, never!
Awaiting me was pain, suffering and sadness
In my wedding bed there I lie groaning,
curling like a wounded animal, victim of feminine pain.
At dawn awaits me ridicule.
My mother announces,
yes she is a virgin.
When fear gets hold of me
When anger seizes my body
When hate becomes my company or companion
I get feminine advice, it is only feminine pain they say,
and feminine pain perishes like all feminine things!
The journey continues, or the struggle continues as modern historians say!
As the good tie of marriage matures
As I submit and sorrow subsides
My belly becomes like a balloon
A glimpse of happiness appears
A hope, a new baby, a new life!
Ah, a new life endangers my life
A baby's birth is death and destruction for me!
It is what my grandmother called the three feminine sorrows
and if I may recall my grandmother said,
the day of circumcision, the wedding night and the birth
of a baby are the three feminine sorrows.
As the birth burst: And I cry for help the battered flesh tears.
No mercy, push they say! It is only feminine pain and feminine pain perishes.
When the spouse decides to break the good tie,
when he concludes divorce and desertion,
I retire with my wounds.
And now hear my appeal!
Appeal for dreams broken
Appeal for my right to live as a whole
Appeal to you and all peace-loving people.
Protect, support, give a hand
to innocent little girls, who do no harm, trusting and
obedient to their parents, elders
and all they know are only smiles.
Initiate them to the world of love not to the world of feminine sorrow!



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