Young girls are victims of FGM

The death of a 13-year-old girl during a genital mutilation procedure has brought the issue back into the spotlight in Egypt. While some Egyptians are fighting for the practice to be eradicated, others justify it in the name of religion.

“We have been brought up according to certain morals. It shows good upbringing, a way of controlling a girl’s sexual desire.”Sameya Mohammad Abdel-Razek, a grandmother from the Egyptian city of Giza is talking about female genital mutilation.

It has been condemned by international health organisations for years. It was made illegal in Egypt in 2008, and yet it is still very widely practised.

In some rural areas in Egypt, it is estimated that more than 75% of women have had the procedure, but it is common in urban areas too. “I had the operation done for each of my three girls when they were 11 years old,” Ms Abdel-Razek tells me. “I told each daughter this operation is extremely important, and that it is just like having their tonsils removed.”

In fact, of course, the procedure means varying amounts of a girl’s genitalia are cut away. In rural areas it is often done without anaesthetic. In very extreme cases so much is removed that the wound fuses to leave only a small hole through which to urinate.

But Sameya said that each time one of her girls had the operation done, the family held a party to celebrate. She says she fully expects her granddaughter to have it, too.

Girls have even lost their lives because of the procedure. This month, 13-year-old Suhair al Bata’a died during an operation in a village north of Cairo. Initial findings say she suffered an extreme loss of blood pressure.

Pray for righteousness and justice for young girls, for physical and emotional healing, and for the many women who face a lifetime of physical consequences from this act of violence against them. Pray for the Church in Egypt to stand against this practice.

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