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Table 3 Egypt – the contradiction between social norms and legal frameworks

From: Debating medicalization of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): learning from (policy) experiences across countries

Worldwide more than half of all medicalized FGM/C procedures are performed in Egypt [3] and medicalization rates in Egypt are rising. Available data show that the percentage of girls cut by health professionals increased from 55% in 1995 to 77% in 2008 [35] and 84% in 2014 (EDHS, 2014).
In Egypt, policies and laws related to the medicalization of FGM/C have undergone a number of shifts. In 1994, in an attempt to improve the safety of FGM/C, the government gave its consent for FGM/C when performed by health personnel in public hospitals [35]. This government consent aimed at improving the safety of FGM/C, in a context where people viewed the practice as inevitable. The Egyptian Minister of Health at the time stated that the medicalization of FGM/C would reduce complications and eventually end the practice [9, 36]. Women’s rights and health advocates criticized the consent as government endorsement of FGM/C. In 1995, after the death of a girl in a hospital during a FGM/C procedure [38], this policy was revised. First governmental hospitals, and later private hospitals were banned from performing the procedure, except ‘when medically necessary’. The prerequisite of medical necessity functioned as a loophole until 2006 [35, 36, 38]. In 2007 further restrictions banned all state-licensed health workers in either government or private clinics from performing FGM/C. In 2008 performing FGM/C was criminalized in the penal code [35]. Initially FGM/C was covered as a misdemeanor, imposing the penalty of imprisonment between 3 months and 2 years on practitioners of FGM/C. In 2016, following several deaths of girls while undergoing FGM/C, the law was strengthened and enforced with increased sentences. In 2016 the penalty of imprisonment was raised from five to 7 years for medical practitioners. If the practice led to death or permanent disability the imprisonment could be up to 15 years. Moreover, a penalty of imprisonment between one and 3 years was imposed for any individual who escorted the victims of such crimes to the perpetrators [39].
However, a number of recent studies reveal that despite these policies and legal restrictions the medicalization of FGM/C continues in Egypt [35, 40, 41].