The Egyptian government passed a bill on Sunday to toughen the punishment for anyone found practising female genital mutilation (FGM). Those convicted now face up to 15 years hard labour in prison, the health ministry said in a statement.
According to Health Minister Ahmed Emad, the new law will apply to FGM carried out without medical justification. "The amendment provides for harsher punishment for a period not less than five years and not more than seven years," he told a press conference. "This goes up to 15 years imprisonment if the FGM leads to permanent disability or death." The bill will now be sent for parliament to vote on it.
The minister pointed out that the amendment aims to reduce the impact of FGM. At the moment, more than 90 per cent of Egyptian women are affected by FGM at one level or another. Late last year, the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, announced that Egypt is number one in the list of countries in which female genital mutilation is practiced.