Egyptian Health Minister Defends Female Circumcision Ban
Egyptian Health Minister Ismail Sallam criticized Moslem fundamentalists for opposing Egypt’s ban on female circumcision. Sallam was routinely interrupted by Moslem extremists condemning the ban during a Cairo Book Fair. Sallam replied, “Growing a beard doesn’t give you the right to issue religious decrees. It’s the mufti’s prerogative and he said that female circumcision is not a religious duty .... We must protect poor and peasant girls because we know that the wealthy, officials, and senior clerics don’t circumcise their own,” said Sallam.
Egypt’s State Council ordered in December that a ban on female circumcision would stand. The court ruled that, “henceforth, it is illegal for anyone to carry out circumcision operations, even if the girl or her parents agree to it.” Offenders face up to three years in prison.
During female circumcision part or all of the labia and clitoris are amputated to remove a woman’s sexual desire. More than 90 percent of Egyptian girls are circumcised around the ages of five or six. Around 70 percent of the operations are performed in the home in filthy conditions, sometimes resulting in death from bleeding or infection.
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