A Horror that never ends… Thanks to MPs, unscrupulous doctors, and extremist scholars
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still a persistent issue, where researchers prove that it is only evident in African nations; highest in Somalia, Kenya and Egypt with ratings exceeding 85% each, and it is commonly related to lack of education and poor social and economic stratifications.
Normally, in Middle Eastern societies, purity has always been associated with a person’s physical appearance rather than his own deep values; therefore as being fully covered up is a sign of piety for women, similarly, misogynistic practices, such as Female Genital Mutilation, are as well associated with piety. Parades are held to girls in Africa, who are mutilated, associating the action to happiness and pride.
However, the seriousness of our authority to combat such a barbaric action, is under question, and the messages sent from religious institutions are not unified into a coherent body of voicing that it’s condemnable. Interestingly, there was a strong unified abhor to the action by the religious leaders in liberal Egypt in 1950 issued by a wide range of Egyptian Imams after researching that matter, in a magazine called “the doctor”, based on Dr Ali Gomaa’s assertion, until the unified opposition was scattered into contradictory pieces afterwards.
Al Azhar, the highest religious authority, assures that the prophet never circumcised his daughters, explicitly stating that it is “haram” supported by “Dar El Efta” figures; however, the scientific committee of Al Azhar scientists “condemned” the statement of the ban issued by Al Azhar leader; further compounding the problem rather than resolving it?! Thus, liberal imams condemn it, while conservative ones consider it a “sonna” after the prophet’s life although the Prophet himself, never circumcised any of his daughters.
Egypt has the highest rate globally of FGM of almost 27.8 million performed the act with percentages ranging between 85% to 92% rendering our society the top nation globally in conducting such a misogynistic action.
Altering God’s own Creation to preserve a woman’s purity or a girl Slaughter?
The term Female Genital Mutilation was used linguistically when Rose Hayes, the American anthropologist, issued her paper in 1975, discussing the shameful act after studying African nations, particularly in Egypt, where reports by UNICEF and the Daily Mail report that almost 85% to 92% of women between 15 and 50 years in Egypt have been exposed to such a brutal course of action committed by 72% of the doctors, suggesting that Egypt is the first nation globally to outnumber other nations in such an action; with a totality of 50% in rural areas vs 40% in urban cities.
Terms such as “cutting”, “mutilation” and “circumcision” are used interchangeably to describe the action of altering the original creation of a girl’s female genitals using a blade or a razor, only leaving a small hole for the passage of urine and the menstrual fluid. Thus, literately they alter God’s own creation to a woman’s organs.
The first female physician to publicly tackle that issue is the feminist, Dr Nawal El Sadawwy, who wonders “if the cut part is truly unnecessary to the female functioning, then why God creates it in the first place, especially that the cut implies removing a real inward flesh from a human body, unlike the outward male genital which implies removing an outward piece of flesh”, as our society does the latter.
Her reasons coincide with Al Azhar and Dar El Efta, the highest Islamic authorities, statement of the actions’ banning, mentioning that it has “no reference in Islam”. It is therefore an action that is suggested by historians to be traced back to Ancient Egypt, rather than its allegiance to any religious norm, especially that there are 4 types of circumcision, and one of them is called the “Pharaonic mutilation”, which is prevalent in Sub Saharan Africa.
The process is either performed by doctors or worse by barbers and midwives, as one victim describes in the Guardian article “with the help of not less than 4 women, holding her down with towels to limit the flow of blood; unattended by her merciful screams”. Now, you can imagine the psychological consequences of such a scene on a toddler’s whole scheme of life, alongside its aftermath physical effects of birth-difficulties.
A source of financial and moral wealth for the doctors and Families… The Reason
This epidemic is performed for cultural and economic reasons. Firstly, its perpetrators whether they are doctors, midwives or barbers consider it a source of income, especially in Upper Egypt where most poor Egyptians reside because parents consider it as an obligation which is legally banned; therefore, by simply applying laws of supply and demand, it is a considerable source of wealth for those who undergo the surgery, while considered a source of moral wealth for the victim’s parents.
Drama Confronts FGM
FGM has a negative effect on the bonding within the family unit. Perhaps a film like “the ostrich and the peacook” or “Al Naama and El Tawoos” 2002; was amongst the earlier films to explain the effect of such an action in detail; when the toddler had her inward parts removed, the psychological effect of the scene haunts her for life if she were to survive it, and she associates the act of sex with pain and humiliation, as one of the victims remembered, that “her first day of marriage revived the shadows of that black night of fear and horror”. It is common for girls to refer to the day of their slaughter as their “black day”.
Also, “Donia” movie by Lebanese director Jocelyn Saab is from the movies that discussed female circumcision bravely and how it affects the sexual relationship between men and women as well as woman’s self-confidence. Concerning the TV series, “Zaat”, which is based on a novel with the same name by the novelist Sonallah Ibrahim, presented a scene for a girl undergoing a female circumcision, and how this affected her relationship with her mum and her sexual relationship with her husband afterwards.
Facts and Myths about FGM
A matter of fact is that physical intimacies are created by God as a means for pleasure, to further be pursued in order to encourage the continuity of the human race as the scientist Dr. Mostafa Mahmoud mentions. Therefore, reversing the whole fact by associating it with pain, will lead women to divert from it, rather than pursue it; a fact which contradicts the ecology of nature.
Also, physicians such as Dr Amr Hassan founder of Enty Al aham – You are more important Initiative, ascertains the fact that FGM leads to alleviating feelings of orgasm on the women’s behalf, and its absence will be reflected on her husband as well, because the intimate relationship is a circulated loop of cause and effect.
Thus, it is a total myth that the society is protecting its girls; they are in fact destroying the sense of pleasure for both sexes; a matter which affects the family bonding.
Egypt in Legal Action: “Bodoor” the Heroic symbol of the Combat in 2008
There was a considerable limelight geared at alleviating FGM in Egypt early 2005, especially after the death of the little girl “Bodoor” in 2007, during the surgery which became the heroic symbol of the cultural awareness prior to the 2011 revolution, so that Article 242 of Egypt’s Penal Code in 2008 was issued, punishing the performance of FGM, in a prison sentence ranging from three months to two years or a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds. However, which is considered mediocre compared to the action brutality.
Also, media campaigners collaborated to abolish the epidemic through using television ads, with the support of health practitioners, media outlets, religious and community leaders to tell a different story about FGM; all efforts peaked from 2005 till 2011.
Furthermore, organized campaigns by the National population Council (NPC) with the support of the UNDP, to alter the perspective of the benefits of such an act took place. For example, in Assiut in Southern Egypt, 60 schoolchildren used to chant songs about the dangers of FGM, so that girls in 150 communities, say they are convinced their younger sisters shouldn’t be mutilated, and speak with unusual candor about their own experiences. Songs chanted used to include phrases of “I am born perfect with my body whole. Why do you want to cut us, and take away the rights that God gave us?’
During the reign of brotherhood… Haram vs a beauty plastic surgery?!
During 2012 and 2013, the Islamic movements had the loudest voice in the community during the reign of the Muslim Brotherhood, who supported this performance at the highest level.
Specifically, the former MP of the freedom and justice party, Azza El Garf , stated out of mere ignorance, that the “Muslim Brotherhood refers to the practice as beautification plastic surgery”.
It was a wise decision by then when Egypt’s New Women Foundation started the process of suing “Azza al-Garf” 2012, for going against Egyptian laws that criminalize FGM because she was inviting “practices that go against women’s human rights”, as they said.
The former MP words were impliedly supported by “Mohamed Morsi” who refused to condemn the barbaric action in any of his speeches, so that the law was de facto suspended when the MB supporters led the nation during its dark era.
In 2016… women lead nations in the west and are “contaminated” in Egypt as MP claims
Angela Mirkel and Theresa May are leading two great nations in history Germany and UK respectively, and US is having its first woman run presidential elections in history, showing the world that 2016 is the year for women; nevertheless, a disaster is taking place in Egypt when the Mp.Ahmed Tahawy recently justified the FGM assault, claiming that “women, who are not circumcised, have an undesirable state of sexual excitement, which can lead to big problems; furthermore, they are contaminated”.
Not only does the fact that a, MP out of his merit, title and supposedly knowledge, leave the reader stunned, but also when we know that he is a member of the health committee in the parliament, we further get to be muddled by questions regarding the stance of the Egyptian authorities about combating such an issue, especially that more death cases are starting to appear under spotlight, with the recent one last June, a girl named “Mayar Mohamed mousa” in suez.
To what extent is our government’s seriousness regarding FGM?
On the one hand, some fresh air breezes when we know, that the death of “Sohair El Bat’a” in 2015 led to the law being in-effect for the first time, since the doctor who performed her FGM, was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor for manslaughter and three months for performing the banned practice, as well as, being fined EGP 500 ($US 68). Also, the father of Sohair was also sentenced to three months in prison for FGM. Despite being a mediocre punishment, still it is better than none.
On the other hand, to complicate the cultural misery of such a brutal action, the International Business magazine survey, states that 30% percent of women in Egypt, believe the procedure should be banned; however, more than 50% said they were in favor of FGM, as it is in accordance with certain cultural traditions.
Thus, the option of changing the cultural perspective amongst women across generations is the only available alternative set on the tables, by stipulating the FGM negative effects in school curricula and specializing days to speak up about its negative consequences especially in rural areas, so that the mothers of the future generations are to be protected if the incumbent ones are otherwise.
Considering whistle-blowing as an option is now imperative, which means that financial rewards shall be given to those who report about a doctor undergoing such an action in secrecy such as his nurses or his closer circles because many parties are now conspiring against the law, only providing financial incentives will help discover the disguised perpetrator.
Finally, members of any elite or associations who encourage such an action, should be outcast from their circles, as was the case in UK in 1850s when Sir Isaac Brown supported FGM to limit masturbation; the result was that he was outcast from any medical associations for being “insane and a heuristic”, a case that has to be replicated in Egypt for doctors who support FGM.
Similarly, Members of the Parliament such as Mr Ahmed Tahawy and those alike, who publicly challenge the law should be stripped of their parliamentary titles for not respecting the law.