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Population Council aims to eliminate FGM by 2030

Egyptian society has responded to efforts made by national institutions to confront the phenomenon of female genital mutilation, according to the National Population Council’s FGM Abandonment and Family Empowerment Program.

Estimates show that FGM rates are in decline, particularly the 15-17 age group for which the prevalence of the practice dropped down to 61 percent in 2014, from 74 percent in 2008.

In a press release on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Multilation, the program said this year it aims to “establish a strong and interactive bridge between Africa and the whole world to expedite the end of FGM by 2030” in accordance with the 2030 sustainable development initiative.

The National Council for Motherhood and Childhood describes FGM as a violation against the rights of children and harmful to girls' health due to the pain and risk of infection. Moreover, due to complications that could lead to death during pregnancy or when giving birth, the lives of both mother and child are endangered.

A statement, issued on the same occasion on Monday, indicated severe, long-lasting psychological effects. It said that many efforts were made by both councils, as well as the Health Ministry in coordination with United Nations organizations, to confront the phenomenon by correcting false concepts and raising awareness against the practice.

“The Child Protection Law issued in 2008 criminalized female circumcision. Those who provide such services work illegally. August 2016 saw a crucial development on the issue when the parliamentary majority toughened the penalties of FGM to five to seven years in prison, instead of three months to two years. Despite the practice generally being highly secretive, the family consultancy line received around 50 reports last year,” the statement said.

A campaign called “Awladna" (Our Children) is being prepared by the council to be launched in cooperation with UNICEF to end violence against children, considering FGM as a form of violence.

The statement also indicated that the council is preparing groups or teams of children to inform people about a child’s rights — a program which is taking place in Giza, Minya, Assiut and Sohag. It also referred to another media campaign called “No to Violence, No to Discrimination” with the aim of spreading awareness about children's rights and abandoning the practice of FGM in Minya, Marsa Matrouh, Gharbiya, Red Sea and Alexandria.

As result of these efforts, the prevalence of this practice decreased from 77 percent in 2005 to 61 percent in 2014 among girls between 15-17 years old, according to a study conducted in 2016.

More than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of female genital mutilation, also called female circumcision — with another 15 million young girls expected to undergo the process in the next decade, according to UNICEF.

FGM is prevalent among both Muslims and Christians in Egypt. It is most prevalent in 28 countries in Africa and some countries in Asia and the Middle East today; the practice harks back to Pharaonic times.


Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm


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