Egypt: Egypt forbids female circumcision
The new ban cancels out a provision that allowed the operation to be performed by qualified doctors in exceptional cases only.
But the death of a 12-year-old girl in Upper Egypt a few days ago triggered an angry barrage of appeals from human rights groups to both the government and the medical profession to act swiftly and stamp out the practice. The doctor who carried out the operation has been arrested.
Egypt's first lady, Susanne Mubarak, has spoken out strongly against female circumcision, saying that it is a flagrant example of continued physical and psychological violence against children which must stop. The country's top religious authorities also expressed unequivocal support for the ban.
The Grand Mufti and the head of the Coptic Church said female circumcision had no basis either in the Koran or in the Bible.
Recent studies have shown that some 90% of Egyptian women have been circumcised. The practice is common among Muslim as well as Christian families in Egypt and other African countries, but is rare in the Arab world. It is believed to be part of an ancient Egyptian rite of passage and is more common in rural areas. Conservative families believe that circumcision is a way of protecting the girls' chastity.
28 June 2007
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