The Fourth Statement of the Anti- FGM Task Force: The proposed amendments to the articles criminalizing FGM
The Anti-FGM Task Force welcomes most of the proposed amendments approved by the Cabinet of Egypt on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, regarding the two articles criminalizing FGM (242 bis) and (242 bis A). These amendments came in response to the repeated demands of the Anti-FGM Task Force and civil society organizations. The Task Force commends the inclusion of those responsible for private medical facilities within the scope of accountability with the aim of expanding legal responsibility, which is what the Task Force demanded in its successive legal comments on the applicable legal articles. The Anti-FGM Task Force is still looking for more government guarantees to limit the spread of this phenomenon and eliminate it. It also calls on members of the Egyptian Parliament to consider the proposals contained in this statement, which ensure the effectiveness of this law after its passage and aims to encourage everyone to file complaints against the main offenders.
The proposed amendments included positive changes in the context of both Articles criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation, by deleting the phrase “Medical Necessity” from the context of the Article, which, in the context currently in force, opened the door to evading punishment in the event that the offender was a doctor. The Anti-FGM Task Force had stressed the need to refute the medical justifications associated with that crime over the years. The Task Force also commends the inclusion of those responsible for private medical facilities in the scope of accountability in order to expand the legal responsibility to eradicate this violent practice from our society, which is what the Task Force called for in its successive legal proposals on the applicable legal Articles. The amendments also included a prison sentence for anyone who called for FGM even if the call did not entail anything.
Based on previous experiences, the Anti-FGM Task Force calls on the Egyptian Parliament to approve the proposed amendments to the context of the law, taking into account the following proposals:
- The need to take into account the legal loophole in the proposed wording within the amendments to the context: “With the removal of its establishment plates and banners, whether owned by the offender physician, or its actual manager knowing that it was committed”, which may be used to remove liability from the main offenders, by claiming that the facility manager did not know about the circumcision being performed in it, which does not urge the actual manager of the facility to play their supervisory role to ensure that girls are not being circumcised in the medical facility under their responsibility.
- One of the main obstacles facing efforts to combat FGM and the enforcement of the legal articles criminalizing it was and still is the low rate of reported Female Genital Mutilation cases. Accordingly, the Task Force’s repeated comments have clarified the harmful role of implementing the punishment on the girl’s parents in the event of a notification. On this basis, the Anti-FGM Task Force emphasizes the need to stipulate a moratorium on the implementation of penalties for the families and/or, at least, the adoption of alternative, non-custodial penalties for the families of girls in the event of notification, to encourage individuals to self-review and submit complaints at any moment. Also, the prison sentence does not remove circumcision from its cultural and societal origins. In fact, the main obstacle to intervening to report circumcision is the fear of the whistleblowers of harming their relatives/parents of the girls, by imprisoning them. Even in cases where circumcision leads to the death of the girl, the girl’s family often refrains from actively participating in the investigations when they realize that they are threatened with imprisonment.
The Anti-FGM Task Force calls on all relevant state institutions to reflect on the parallel ways that must be followed to enforce the law in order to stop this harmful practice, in accordance with Article (1) of the CEDAW Convention, and Article (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Continuing to intensify the penalties as a single intervention without changing the general environment that supports it will provide the appropriate environment for the continuation of this crime, the concealment of it, and the complicity of all the parties involved in it. In this context, the Anti-FGM Task Force calls on the Ministry of Health and Population, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Information, the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, the National Council for Women, civil society, and all parties concerned with integration and participation in the development of the new national strategy to combat female genital mutilation. In order to ensure the development of new mechanisms to eliminate the crime of female circumcision, such as sex education, official and unofficial media materials, educational curricula, and others.
The Anti-FGM Task Force also calls to conduct an evaluation of the national strategy against female circumcision 2016-2020 to identify the successes and build on them, identify the challenges and try to avoid them, and that there be periodically updated statistics and data on female circumcision in Egypt, as the last statistic was since For nearly 6 years, we also call for work on reparation programs for those who have been circumcised, whether through repair operations, psychological support, or sex education.