Female circumcision remains a huge problem in Africa.
A 17 year-old girl has died after undergoing female genital mutilation surgery, known as FGM, in an Egyptian hospital last week.
The procedure, in which parts of the clitoris are removed, has been illegal in Egypt since 2008, but is still being performed on the majority of young women, as many still wrongly consider the traditional female circumcision as purifying, and an effective method for controlling their daughters’ sexual desires.
The 17 year-old girl was treated under general anaesthetic and died from complications due to blood clotting, according to the town’s health ministry undersecretary, who also stated the hospital has since been shut down.
Disturbingly, the victim’s mother worked at the hospital and most likely helped arrange the illegal surgery on her daughter, oblivious of the fact that FGM can cause lifelong pain, health issues, and emotional trauma.
According to the UN, Egypt accounts for one fourth of FGM cases worldwide with more than 91 per cent of married women having been mutilated, though it remains questionable whether the government is doing enough to fight genital mutilation practices.
Since 2008, the percentage of women aged 15 to 17 undergoing the procedure has dropped from 74.4 per cent to 61 per cent, but despite the criminalization of FGM, the majority of uncovered cases have only resulted in minor fines for the doctors, who still manage to evade prison sentences.
Equal rights activist and consultant Suad Abu-Dayyeh isn’t convinced of the government’s efforts.
“It is incredible that the Egyptian police are not taking a tough line on ending FGM in a country where over 27 million have been affected,” says Abu-Dayyeh.
“The death of the 17 year-old should be yet another shocking wake-up call for Egypt.”
Comment: What steps do you think the government needs to take to put an end to FGM?