A step forward for opponents of female genital mutilation in Egypt

Lancet. 1997 jan;349(9045)129 – 130

A step forward for opponents of female genital mutilation in Egypt

Abd El Hadi A


In July, 1996, a decree by the Egyptian Minister of Health, Dr Ismail Sallam, prohibited physicians from performing female genital mutilation in private or public health facilities. Despite the decree’s short-comings, opponents of such mutilation view it as an important step. The decree reverses the decision of the previous Minister of Health who, in 1994, overturned a 35-year ban and permitted female genital mutilation to be done in public hospitals.

The fight against female genital mutilation is not new in Egypt. Activists have raised the issue since the late 1970s, and the main focus has been the health hazards associated with female genital mutilation. However, in 1994, with the establishment of the Task Force Against Female Genital Mutilation, such opposition coalesced into a national movement, which has brought a new human rights perspective to the debate. One activist said “Whether or not female genital mutilation leads to infection, shock, or death, it is a violation of women’s bodily integrity and their reproductive and sexual rights. It is a human rights violation even if it is done in hospitals under anaesthesia and in aseptic conditions”…

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