A 2005 report by UNICEF suggested that 97% of Egyptian women between the ages of 15 and 49 who have never been married have undergone some form of FGM or circumcision. 6
An older meta-study on “female sexual castration” presented in 1989-MAR showed that five surveys conducted between 1977 and 1985 estimated that 80.5% of Egyptian women in Cairo and Alexandria had undergone FGM. 4
I am suggesting we are viewing the problems in Egypt with the lens of a 21st Century Westerner. We have assumed that they “must” want a democracy. Have we not heard that this is a universal desire? Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for all. Exception though, for women. But we will let that one pass.
I am bringing forth this sensitive topic for the purpose of attempting to illuminate that not everyone holds the same values as ourselves. I see so many similarities between Egypt and Iran. It was the Shah’s wife as well, who pushed for education for women. A more westernized approach to culture. The Clerics were furious. We know the outcome.
So what is that we do know about Egyptian Culture? I suggest we understand very little about these people.That we share less in common than we wish for. Could we ever understand what they do to their little girls? It is repulsive to us, and we look at it as one of the worse forms of child abuse.Our ethnocentrism is getting in our way and in the way of Egypt.
First we know that the majority of Egyptians embrace Sharia law. That is not a shared value. See: Majority of Egyptians want Sharia Law
Second, and I think most importantly, we do not share the value of women, and their role in society. Nothing could be more striking than the support of “female sexual castration” or otherwise known as Female Genital Mutilation.
During 2007-JUN, Ahmad ‘Aliwa, a women’s rights activist, described one finding that shows the near universal practice of FGM in Egypt, noting:
“The Center for Social Studies conducted a survey which showed that 85% of the prostitutes in Egypt were circumcised. There is no relation between female circumcision and the girls’ behavior.” 5
Now let us review this evil dictator Mubarak and his wife. Not enemies of Israel and the United States of late. Who managed to keep the radicals at bay with often brute force, similar to the Shah, to stop the radicals who would have their country dissolve back into a 11th century state again. Who, with his wife, attempted to take on the Clerics and as an example, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation.
FGM debate in Egypt:
Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, head of the al-Azhar Islamic Institute, had stated during the 1990s that the practice is un-Islamic. The Health Minister of Egypt, Ismail Sallam, announced a ban on FGM in 1996-JUL. This was upheld by a junior administrative court in Cairo.
Sheik Youssef Badri, a Muslim fundamentalist, took the health minister to court. In 1997-JUN, an Egyptian court overturned the ban. Eight Muslim scholars and doctors had testified that the ban exceeded the government’s authority and violated the legal rights of the medical profession. Sheik Youssef Badri commented:
“[Female] circumcision is Islamic; the court has said that the ban violated religious law. There’s nothing which says circumcision is a crime, but the Egyptians came along and said that Islam is a crime.”
The government appealed the case to Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court. They ruled that the operation is not required by Islam, and that “female circumcision is not a personal right according to the rules of Islamic Sharia (law).” Thus, FGM is subject to Egyptian law. The government prohibited the procedure, even if it is done with the agreement of the child and her parents. However, gynecologists are still allowed to perform the surgery if it is needed for health reasons.
The BBC reported in 2007 that:
“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.” 7
And in our Country? We have had our own brush with FGM. Only last Spring, the American Academy of Pediatrics supported a form of this in order to mollify the Muslims in our country. The hope was that this would reduce this more virulent form of this “surgery”. Several months later, they were forced to retract the policy.
EQUALITY NOW CALLS ON AAP TO REVOKE ELEMENTS OF ITS 2010 POLICY STATEMENT THAT ENDORSES PEDIATRICIANS’ “NICKING” OF GIRLS’ GENITALIA
NEW YORK, May 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — International human rights organization Equality Now is stunned by a new policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which essentially promotes female genital mutilation (FGM) and advocates for “federal and state laws [to] enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ‘ritual nick’,” such as pricking or minor incisions of girls’ clitorises. The Policy Statement “Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors“, issued by the AAP on April 26, 2010, is a significant set-back to the Academy’s own prior statements on the issue of FGM and is antithetical to decades of noteworthy advancement across Africa and around the world in combating this human rights violation against women and girls. PR Newswire and Big Gornment for more information.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS WITHDRAWS
POLICY STATEMENT ON FEMALE GENITAL CUTTING
For Immediate Release: May 27, 2010
CHICAGO — The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has retired its 2010 policy statement on female genital cutting (FGC). The AAP Board of Directors has approved the following as AAP policy on FGC:”The AAP reaffirms its strong opposition to FGC and counsels its members not to perform such procedures. As typically practiced, FGC can be life-threatening. Little girls who escape death are still vulnerable to sterility, infection, and psychological trauma.