Statement: International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation: Doctors Say No to Female Genital Mutilation

Feb 7, 2017

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Egypt standby to reiterate their commitment towards combatting FGM. UNDP and UNFPA also command the recent and ongoing efforts by the government to eliminate FGM; most importantly the recent decision to amend and stiffen the FGM criminalizing law up to a rigorous imprisonment of 5-7 years, instead of the previous sentence that ranged from 3 months to 3 years, in addition to transforming the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony, where the punishment could lead up to 15 years of rigorous imprisonment, if the crime led to permanent disability or death. It is worth noting that accomplices also may face from one year to three years’ imprisonment.

Yet, the steadily increasing medicalization of FGM in Egypt has been one of the main challenges to the efforts to combat the practice in Egypt. According to the Egypt’s Demographic Health Survey (EDHS) 2014, 82% of FGM is performed by medical personnel. Thus, medicalization of FGM represents a main challenge to accelerating the abandonment of the practice, as it further legitimizes the practice of FGM among the communities as an acceptable procedure.

Henceforth, UNDP and UNFPA command and welcome the ‘Doctors against FGM’ initiative launched on 3rd February 2017 under the ‘Abandonment of FGM and Empowerment of Families’ Joint Programme and through the generous support from the European Union (EU) and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The initiative was launched in commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, where the doctors proclaimed their formal denouncement of the medicalization of FGM. The main aim of the initiative is to integrate a module on the harms of FGM and the paralegal aspect of engaging in the practice of FGM within the Medical Curricula taught in Egyptian medical schools. The launch of the initiative was endorsed by a number of Deans of Medical schools at various Universities, as well as, the Supreme Council of Universities and the Ministry of Health. The ‘Doctors against FGM’ initiative is expected to operate on several levels in order to encourage practicing physicians to denounce the practice of FGM, in addition to counseling families on its harms.

As previous hurdles were once thought to be insolvable, collective efforts proved successful given the decline in prevalence in the age group (15-17 years old) by more than 13% compared to the 2008 EDHS. UNDP and UNFPA look forward to provide its continuous support to the aforementioned initiative and the implementation of the 2016-2020 National FGM Abandonment Strategy launched in 2015. 

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