(Tunis) – More stringent penalties for female genital mutilation approved by Egypt’s parliament on August 31, 2016, are a step toward eliminating the practice, but further legal and other reforms are needed, Human Rights Watch said today. Egyptian authorities should make sure that laws and policies against female genital mutilation are enforced, including holding accountable medical facility directors who allow the practice to take place.
The new penal code amendments provide for prison terms of five to seven years for those who carry out female genital mutilation, sometimes abbreviated as FGM, and up to 15 years if the case results in permanent disability or death.
“Stricter penalties for female genital mutilation in Egypt now reflect the horrific and potentially deadly consequences of this discriminatory practice,” said Rothna Begum, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But broader law reform is needed to adequately combat this horrific practice, and all such laws should be enforced to protect tens of thousands of girls at risk.”
Under the amendments, anyone who escorts girls to undergo female genital mutilation will face one to three years in prison. However, a 2010 UNICEF report recommended that “[t]he law should take into account the hardship inflicted on families when parents are penalised and should consider the best interests of the child. Preventive and protective measures should be prioritised and punishment should be a last resort.”