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Monday, December 6, 2010

Amid Doubts Over Egypt's Progress, Minister Urges UN to Ban FGM

December 6, 2010
Ahmed Zaki Osman

Egypt’s Minister of Family and Population Moushira Khattab said on Saturday that Egypt is seeking international support in order to urge the UN General Assembly to issue a resolution banning female genital mutilation (FGM).
Khattab said in a press release that Egypt had managed to mobilize international public opinion in condemning this "inhumane practice".
Last November, Khattab was among 42 internationally acclaimed parliamentarians, political leaders and civil society activists who signed a petition calling upon the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution banning FGM worldwide.
The list of the signatories include Nobel laureates Nadime Gordimer, Desmond Tutu, Shirin Ebadi and Martty Ahtisaari as well as number of African first ladies.
FGM is a practice that is very common in some African countries. In Egypt, official figures claim that nine out of every ten Egyptian women have undergone FGM.
Egypt criminalized the practice in 2008 following the death of a 12-year-old girl. However, human rights activists say that it is still being practiced despite the law.
Mona Ezzat from the New Woman Foundation--an advocacy group for women's rights--told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Egypt’s women are being seriously damaged by FGM and the government's steps to fight the harmful practice is not having sufficient results.
"They [the government] go and advertise the fact that Egypt is combating FGM but the reality is that the Ministry of Family and Population is not adopting a fruitful strategy," said Ezzat. "The problem is that we need a cultural change in terms of shifting the society's perspective towards women."
The ministry launched a project in different villages across Egypt to combat FGM, however "people in these villages are still conducting FGM and doctors still believe that it is good for the morals and ethics of women," argued Ezzat, who concluded that "the ministry’s approach is based on religious teachings that might be understood as a reason for banning the practice, but a religious approach is not sufficient since it sometimes fails to convince highly conservative regions in Egypt, such the southern part."