Image credit: Rachel Levit
By Mona Eltahawy
I am a 47-year-old Egyptian woman. And I am among the fortunate few of my countrywomen whose genitals have not been cut in the name of “purity” and the control of our sexuality.
Egyptian government figures put the rate of female genital mutilation among women ages 15 to 49 at 91 percent. Among teenagers 15 to 17, it is 74 percent. Unicef estimates that of the 125 million women worldwide who have undergone genital cutting in the 29 countries where it is most prevalent — mostly in Africa and the Middle East — one in five lives in Egypt.
Other than the tireless Egyptian activists who for years have fought to eradicate it, very few talk about a practice that brings nothing but harm to so many girls and women. In her books, the feminist Nawal El Saadawi has long documented her own cutting at the age of 6 and her tenacious campaign against a practice that is carried out by both Muslims and Christians in Egypt. But why aren’t other prominent women speaking out by sharing their own experience of surviving genital cutting? The silence comes at a great cost.
Many international treaties designate female genital mutilation a violation of the human rights of girls and women. On Oct. 30, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, announced a global campaign to end it within a generation.
Egypt first banned the practice in 1959, and then permitted it again in some forms. When Egypt hosted the 1994 United Nations Population Conference, it was embarrassed by a CNN report that showed a cutting procedure, despite official claims that it was no longer practiced. The government then allowed “medical” genital cutting — in which the procedure is carried out in a medical environment or by a medical professional — until 2008, when a universal ban was imposed after a 12-year-old girl died the previous year during a procedure in a clinic.
Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.