EGYPT: Despite the fact that Female Genital Mutilation has been banned in Egypt in 1996, the issue continues to be a problematic one. There exists a reasonable fear that the ban could be overturned under the existing Islamist government, as Al Arabiya News reported today.
Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, who became president last month, was asked on television to comment on the state-imposed ban on FGM. He said it was a private issue between mothers and daughters, adding that families, not the state, should decide. Mr Morsi´s views are commonly held across the country.
His response disturbed children’s and women’s rights advocates who have been working for years to change the perception of this procedure in the society.
Although support for FGM is still widespread there has been considerable change since the mid-1990s. In 1995, 82 % of women aged (15-49) believed FGM should continue. This dropped to 75 % in 2000 and to 62.5% in 2008, according to UNICEF.
The Egyptian feminist, writer and physician Nawal el-Saadawi was the first to shed light on the issue across the region, said:
” Everything is possible depending on the ruling party.The government controls everything in the country; they own weapons, money, and media. When any new government comes to power, they definitely implement changes.”
As a result, the human rights groups are increasingly concerned that the Islamic parties intend to cut women rights short and reverse laws which were passed under the former regimes, including the ban on FGM.