Egypt's cabinet has toughened a law banning female genital mutilation (FGM) by raising the maximum penalty to 20 years in prison, Reuters reported.
Despite the 2008 ban, nearly 90 per cent of Egyptian females aged between 15 and 49 have undergone FGM, according to a 2016 survey by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Under the changes, which come as part of efforts to stamp out the ancient practice, even those requesting FGM would face jail time.
FGM is a prevalent practice among both Muslims and Christians in at least 27 African countries and parts of Asia and the Middle East.
Girls can bleed to death or die from infections as a result of FGM, which can also cause fatal childbirth complications later.