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Egyptian man sues wife for subjecting daughters to FGM

A young girl looks out of her window in Cairo, Egypt on 10 December 2016 [Chris McGrath/Getty Images]
A young girl looks out of her window in Cairo, Egypt on 10 December 2016 [Chris McGrath/Getty Images]

An Egyptian man has filed a case against his wife for subjecting his daughters to female genital mutilation (FGM) without his or his daughters’ consent.

In a phone interview with TeN television channel on Monday, Nour Eddin Al-Hanafy said that he filed a case against his wife last month, accusing her of violating the law by having his daughters operated on.

“When my wife told me she would circumcise my daughter, I refused and warned her, but she circumcised them, so I filed a case against her to get her punished,” he said.

Al-Hanafy also said that he had consulted religious scholars in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, all of whom denounced FGM.

“I have been working in Saudi Arabia for more than 12 years and I have dealt with many of the different nationalities from Islamic countries. None of them are doing FGM except Egypt and Sudan,” he said.

Al-Hanafy’s case has been adjourned until 24 December, but he vowed to continue with it.

“I need to obtain the rights of my girls and hold the mother accountable. Doctors said that circumcision causes great psychological and physical damage to girls,” Al-Hanafy concluded.

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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 causes permanent disability or death. Family members who escort girls can also receive between one and three years in prison.

Yet statistics indicate that the practice has continued due to cultural and societal pressures. According to the UNICEF, 87 per cent of women and girls aged 15-49 in Egypt have undergone the procedure.

#EndFGM

Cultural attitudes to FGM have also been purported by Egyptian parliamentarians. MP Elhamy Agina has previously claimed that women must undergo FGM to help curb men’s “sexual weakness” and reduce women’s “sexual appetites”.

However public perception has pushed back against such narratives; earlier this year a new website entitled “Enough with FGM” was launched, hosting videos and articles seeking to educate readers on the dangers of mutilating girls.

According to Vivian Fouad, coordinator of the National Strategy against FGM, the website often receives anonymous reports of FGM attempts and some have revealed the locations of doctors illegally performing the operation, allowing authorities to arrest those responsible.

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