In a bid to end the crime of female genital mutilation (FGM), Egypt is introducing harsher punishments. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi has passed the amendments made to the penal code submitted by the House of Representatives to introduce stricter penalties for the crime. The new bill that was first introduced in January will hold everyone involved in the practice accountable, including doctors and nurses.
In March, the House of Representatives approved the bill submitted by the government, which was then sent to the Legislation Department of the State Council for review. The new amendment states that any person who engages in FGM by removing, modifying, or mutilating a part of a female’s genitals is punishable by a term of five to seven years of imprisonment. If the procedure results in death, the penalty will be imprisonment with hard labor for a period of no less than 10 years.
If a doctor or a nurse were to engage in FGM and it results in permanent disability, they will face prison time with hard labor of no less than 10 years; if the procedure results in death, it is punishable by 15 to 20 years of imprisonment. They will also be prohibited from practicing their profession for three to five years. The law also requires that the clinic where the FGM procedure took place to be closed for five years.
Anyone requesting the procedure will also be subjected to prison time if the request is fulfilled. Anyone who participates in any form of promotion, advocation, and encouragement for FGM will also face prison time.
In 2008, the country’s parliament approved a law banning the procedure, which was then criminalized in 2016. Around 90% of Egyptian women and girls aged between 15 and 49 have undergone FGM, according to a survey done by the UN’s Children Fund (Unicef). According to a study done by Unicef, Egypt ranked fourth in the world and third amongst Arab countries, in terms of the number of women and girls who have undergone FGM.