15 years of jail for female circumcision in Egypt

Egypt has stepped up the penalty for female genital mutilation, raising the minimum prison sentence from three months to five years. The maximum penalty is now 15 years in prison.

The law was originally passed by the parliament in August but only just came into effect.

The health ministry announced this week that it has begun overseeing clinics and private hospitals to enforce the anti-female genital mutilation law.

The new law seeks to crackdown on a massive problem in the country. According to a 2014 government survey, 92% of women aged between 15 and 49 have been circumcised. Christians and Muslims continue the practice despite government efforts to address the problem.

Female genital mutilation is defined as “partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons,” by the World Health Organization.

Previously, genital mutilation was classified as a misdemeanor and carried a penalty of three months to a maximum of three years in prison. Under the new law, perpetrators face between five and seven years in prison. If the mutilation leads to permanent disability or death, the perpetrator will face up to 15 years in prison.

The increased prison sentences target doctors and medical practitioners who continue to do genital mutilation procedures.

Human Rights Watch has welcomed the new law, saying it reflects “the horrific and potentially deadly consequences of this discriminatory practice.” But it also cautioned against imprisoning family members, as this could cause hardships on the family.

The new regulations will see health ministry officials inspecting facilities suspected of continuing the procedure accompanied by police. More than 80 percent of female genital mutilation procedures are conducted by the country’s health professionals, according to 2014 data.

“The prosecutor general issued a memo to all prosecutors, emphasizing the importance of investigating all FGM cases,” Mayssa Shawky, Egypt’s deputy health minister, told CNN.

In upper Egypt, where the practice is most common, deaths resulting from circumcision are believed to occur often. But these are usually covered up by family, to avoid repercussions, Shawky said.

The government has faced opposition in addressing the crisis. Even some lawmakers have criticized attempts to curb the practice.

In September, Egyptian lawmaker Elhamy Agina drew outrage when he argued bizarrelyin support of the procedure. He claimed that Egyptian men are “sexually weak” and that women needed the procedure to reduce their “sexual appetite.” Agina said that if female genital mutilation was stopped, Egypt would “need strong men,” which it apparently doesn’t have.

Source: stepfeed.com

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