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Website to combat FGM launches in Egypt

Egyptian women hold placards during a demonstration protesting violence against women in Egypt on 22 December 2015 [Amr Sayed/Apaimages]
Egyptian women hold placards during a demonstration protesting violence against women in Egypt on 22 December 2015 [Amr Sayed/Apaimages]

A new website has been launched in Egypt to tackle the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), as part of a wider campaign to protect women and young girls, Egypt Independent has reported.

"Enough With FGM" hosts videos and article seeking to educate readers on the dangers of mutilating girls. Despite being illegal since 2008, confusion about the alleged benefits of FGM remains widespread in Egypt; according to UNICEF 87 per cent of Egyptian women between the ages of 15 and 49 have undergone the procedure.

According to Vivian Fouad, coordinator of the National Strategy against FGM, the website has received anonymous reports of FGM attempts and some have revealed the locations of doctors illegally performing the operation.

"We've received a recent notice of a doctor in Al-Giza governorate who was secretly performing FGM on girls in his clinic. We communicated with the Ministry of Health who then notified the prosecution. The clinic was found and the doctor arrested," she explained.

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The website also frequently receives questions from parents sceptical if FGM really is unhealthy, illegal and forbidden by Islamic law.

"These are actually the most calls we receive," Fouad said, "We answer all their questions comprehensively with scientific proof, explaining pure in a factual manner without exaggeration to maintain their trust."

FGM survivors also post their experiences on the site to dissuade families from seeking to have their daughters undergo the procedure.

In 2016, the Egyptian parliament approved a bill to tighten laws surrounding FGM, with a penalty of five to seven years in prison for those who perform the operation, with a chance of a 15-year sentence if it caused permanent disability or death. Family members who escort girls can also receive between one and three years in prison.

Whilst reporting of FGM has increased since the bill, MP Nadia Henary says that changes still need to be made.

"Unfortunately even though doctors are being arrested, legal procedures still don't always go smoothly, and so they continue easily being released."

Henary is currently working on a bill to protect those who report on FGM from being liable to face legal repercussions and not be held accountable.

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