Cairo: The Egyptian government on Sunday approved a draft law toughening penalty against female circumcision, better known as female genital mutilation (FGM).
The draft punishes anyone involved in female circumcision, banned in Egypt since 2007, by five to seven years in prison instead of the current penalty of a maximum three years of imprisonment, Health Minister Ahmad Emad said.
“The penalty can reach 15 years in prison if the [FGM] operation results in a permanent disability or death,” Emad told a press conference.
Under the draft, parents subjecting their girls to the procedure face a jail term raging from one to three years.
“The Cabinet agreed on this amendment and sent it today [Sunday] to the House of Representatives for endorsement,” the official said, referring to the Egyptian parliament.
“The amended law can end the crimes of female circumcision which presently reaches around 91 per cent in Egypt,” Emad added.
The draft, which has to be approved by parliament to take effect, comes three months after a teen girl died of illegal female circumcision surgery she underwent in a private hospital in the coastal city of Suez, marking Egypt’s first reported death from FGM since 2013.
The 17-year-old girl’s death sent shock waves across the nation, and showed that the centuries-old practice is still rife despite its ban.
The practice, which includes the removal of all or part of the clitoris, is usually done for local girls before reaching puberty.
Experts say that severe forms of FGM can lead to life-long psychosexual problems and troubles related to menstruation, sexual intercourse and childbirth.
In the past, FGM was performed in Egypt by local midwives and even barbers without the use of anaesthetics, using knives or razors.
In recent years, however, some 82 per cent of FGM operations in Egypt have been performed by medical practitioners, according to official figures.