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Egypt Officials Ban Female Circumcision

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Although the documentary embarrassed Cairo internationally, it failed to propel the parliament to pass legislation penalizing female circumcision.

A 2003 survey by UNICEF said that 97 percent of married women in Egypt have undergone genital mutilation.

A recent study by Egypt's Ministry of Health and Population found that 50.3 percent of girls between the age of 10-18 years have been circumcised.

After the girl's death, the country's supreme religious authorities stressed that Islam is against female circumcision.

"Its prohibited, prohibited, prohibited," Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said on the privately owned al-Mahwar network.

While top clerics insist the practice has nothing to do with Islam, parents, especially in villages and Cairo slums, believe they are helping their daughters. They think circumcision is necessary for cleanliness and to protect a girl's virginity before marriage.

Opponents say girls can bleed to death, suffer chronic urinary infections and have life-threatening complications in childbirth as a result of the procedure.

The Al-Masry Al-Youm daily reported the doctor in Shaker's case denied allegations of malpractice and said the girl was in a "bad condition" to start with, and was immediately transferred to a regular hospital where she died. The doctor was not identified.

Egypt's renowned feminist activist, Nawal el-Saadawi, 76, who has published a biography on her own experience with circumcision, wrote: "Badour, did you have to die for some light to shine in the dark minds? Did you have to pay with your dear life a price ... for doctors and clerics to learn that the right religion doesn't cut children's organs."


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