FGM in Egypt between socio-cultural barriers and lack of political will

Pages252-262
Published date03 October 2019
Date03 October 2019
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-03-2019-0406
AuthorYasmin Khodary,Nehal Hamdy
Subject MatterHealth & social care
FGM in Egypt between socio-cultural
barriers and lack of political will
Yasmin Khodary and Nehal Hamdy
Abstract
Purpose This study aims to detect the main factors impeding the anti-female genital mutilation (FGM)
efforts in Egypt post the January 25 revolution, with a special focus on the era of president El-Sisi. The
purpose of this paper is to explain the reasons behind the continuation of violence against women in Egypt,
namely, FGM, in light of the patriarchal structures and the state willingness to address that challenge.
Design/methodology/approach The study utilizes a qualitative methodology. The study embarks on
in-depth semi-structured interviews with 23 participants who experienced FGM and nine key informants from
medical, religious, political and civil society backgrounds, including a professor of pathology, a gynecologist,
a diplomatic researcher in Al-Azhar, three members of parliament, a representative of the Ministry of
Population, the reporter of the National Council for Women and a representative of Nazra non-governmental
organization for feminist studies in Egypt.
Findings The findings reveal that FGM remains prevalent not only due to the persisting socio-cultural
context that continues to embrace and reproduces gender inequalities, but also because of the insufficient
political will to combat FGM and enforce the required laws.
Social implications FGM is considered one form of gender inequality perpetuated by social, cultural and
economic structures. It is recognized internationally as a crime and a violation against womensrights as per
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, etc. Although the Egyptian Government passed
laws banning the practice of FGM, it continues to form a challenging problem to social workers, women
activists, human rights groups and public health officials.
Originality/value Little work has been done to investigate FGM post the January 25 revolution in Egypt
and identify the main factors impeding the anti-FGM efforts in Egypt. This work fills this gap and concludes
with some lessons learnt to fight FGM and improve the anti-FGM efforts.
Keywords Egypt, FGM, Female genital mutilation, Law enforcement, Political will, Socio-cultural factors,
Violence against women
Paper type Research paper
During the January 25 demonstrations in Egypt, women stood shoulder to shoulder with men in
the public sphere hoping for deep social change. However, following the climax of the
revolutionary moment, which was symbolized in the stepping down of former Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian women continued to find themselves face-to-face with the residual
economic, cultural and social capital of previous and ancient regimes (Hassan, 2015, p. 7).
According to the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, Egypt is ranked 135th among 144 countries,
compared to being ranked 125th in 2010 (WEF, 2018). The purpose of this study is to explain the
reasons behind the continuation of violence against women (VAW) in Egypt, namely, female
genital mutilation (FGM)[1], in light of the patriarchal structures and the state willingness to
address that challenge. FGM is internationally recognized as a crime and a violation against
womens rights as per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the
Child and other international agreements (WHO, 1998, p. 51)[2]. Although the Egyptian
Government passed laws banning the practice of FGM, FGM continues to persist in many parts
of Egypt. According to the latest Egyptian Health Survey, 87 percent of Egyptian women, in the
age between 15 and 49 have been subjected to FGM (EL-Zanaty and ICF, 2015). FGM, known
as tahara in Arabic, is considered one form of gender inequality perpetuated by social, cultural
Received 4 March 2019
Revised 6 May 2019
Accepted 5 June 2019
Yasmin Khodary and Nehal
Hamdy are both based at the
Department of Political
Science, British University in
Egypt, Cairo, Egypt.
PAGE252
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JOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICTAND PEACE RESEARCH
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VOL. 11 NO. 4 2019, pp.252-262, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 DOI 10.1108/JACPR-03-2019-0406

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