The Cabinet has approved an amendment to the law criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), increasing the penalty to five to seven years prison with hard labor, in place of the previous three months to three years, Health Minister Ahmed Emad Eddine has declared.
According to the amended law, offenders could serve as long as 15 years in cases where the inflicted practice cause a permanent disability or death. Any person found to have been present during the circumcision of a female will serve between one to three years.
In a Cabinet press conference on Sunday, Eddine said that the amended law has now been sent to parliament having been approved by the Cabinet for the amendments to be applied.
The minister expressed hope that the amendments to the law will reduce the prevalence of FGM in Egypt, which currently affects 91 percent of women and girls in the country. It is not unusual for FGM procedures to lead to death, he said, indicating the recent death of a girl in Suez as a result of an FGM operation.
In May, 17-year-old Mayar died during a circumcision operation which led to heavy bleeding and her subsequent death from blood loss.
Operations are often carried out by unqualified, unsanitary surgeons, said the minister, stressing that such traditions will not be changed without the enforcement of the law.
Maysa Shawqy, deputy health minister for population affairs, said that in order for the law to have an impact and for the phenomenon of FGM to be eradicated, it must be coupled with raising awareness. She indicated a national strategy to fight FGM in coordination with religious and social institutions.
FGM is a widespread practice in Egypt, found especially in Upper Egypt and other rural areas of the country.
Edited translation from MENA