The United Nations Children’s Fund has welcomed Egypt’s decision to stamp out the traditional but gruesome practice of female genital mutilation after a 12-year-old girl died following the procedure.
Egypt’s Health and Population Minister has issued a decree fully criminalising female genital mutilation (FMG) and closing a previous loophole involving health professionals conducting the practice, UNICEF said yesterday.
The country’s highest Muslim authority, Al-Azhar Supreme Council of Islamic Research, issued a statement saying that FGM is harmful, have no basis in core Islamic law and should not be practiced.
Egypt’s first lady, Suzanne Mubarak, has also launched a national campaign to raise awareness about the practice and to accelerate efforts to ensure it is eliminated, including by amending existing child laws.
UNICEF Egypt Representative Erma Manoncourt said the amendments could allow people to report on violators who continue to conduct FGM, which in Egypt has largely been performed by trained medical personnel.
“UNICEF will fully support the National Council of Childhood and Motherhood, the Ministry of Health and Population, and all partners to help fully implement the strengthened law and educate people on its meaning,” Dr. Manoncourt said.
The changes in Egypt follow the death of the pre-teen girl in Upper Egypt last week. UNICEF estimates that three million girls and women are subject to FGM every year in Africa.