UNICEF Calls On Egypt To End Female Genital Cutting

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Female Genital Cutting

UNICEF on Monday called for pressure to be maintained on Egypt to stop the practice of female genital cutting, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News,9/10). Egypt in June announced that it will impose a total ban onfemale genital cutting, rescinding a provision that allowed thepractice to be performed by qualified physicians in exceptional cases.


Femalegenital cutting -- sometimes referred to as female circumcision orfemale genital mutilation -- is a practice in which there is a partialor full removal of the labia, clitoris or both. About 6,000 girlsundergo genital mutilation daily, and the World Health Organizationestimates that 100 million to 140 million women worldwide arecircumcised. At least 90% of women who undergo genital cutting live indeveloping countries -- such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone,Somalia and Sudan -- while almost no women undergo the practice inIran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to UNICEF.

A spokespersonfor the Egyptian health ministry has said that under the ban, no memberof the medical profession would be allowed to perform the operation inpublic or private clinics and that any person who breaks the law willbe punished. The country's top religious authorities, including thehead of the Coptic Church and the Grand Mufti, have expressed supportfor the ban (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/2).

UNICEFacknowledged that Egyptian authorities have made progress inimplementing the ban but added that the problem is still widespread."Egypt is one of the few countries in the Middle East where excision isa problem, with a level of 77% of young girls between 15 and 17 yearsand around 60% among girls under the age of three," Ernon Manoncourt,UNICEF's representative in Egypt, said, adding that the practice wasperformed by medical personnel in 75% of cases. Manoncourt called for"pressure to be maintained so that the subject is not forgotten" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 9/10).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.