Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, March 31, 2008

Battle over female circumcision and child marriages consumes Egypt

Proposed legislation in the Egyptian parliament that would reinforce the illegality of female circumcision with serious prison sentences, and raise the minimum age of when a girl can marry has sparked outrage from Islamists and conservative clerics, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday on its blog, Babylon & Beyond.

Drafted by the government-sponsored National Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the legislation seeks to solidify the criminal nature of female circumcision, imposing two year prison sentences and fines of 5,000 Egyptian pounds for those who carry out the controversial operation. The proposal would also raise the minimum age of marriage from 16 to 18. According to the article, the changes have spurred critics to deem the bill an affront to Sharia law and as “an attempt by the government to impose a Western agenda on an Islamic society.”

Still, the debate is not strictly divided down religious versus secular lines. Islamic scholars have been divided over the religious legitimacy of female circumcision since the practice was technically outlawed several years ago. The bill’s architects believe they have a national consensus behind them, including some clerics.

“Nobody can deny that the Egyptian society resents the negative health effects caused by [female] circumcision,” said Moushira Khattab, secretary-general of the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood. “Thus the punishment of those who conduct the practice is a must.”

For the full article, click here.


Post a Comment

<< Home