After the death of a 12-year-old girl in Upper Egypt from genital cutting, the Egyptian government has completely banned the practice. There has been a general ban for ten years, but it allowed exceptions. That loophole has been closed.
Female genital cutting involves removing part of the clitoris. It is an African practice, engaged in by pagans, Christians and Muslims in Africa. It is not generally found in the Levant or Asian Islam and is not prescribed in the Quran or the early Islamic sources. It is said that the purpose is to reduce the female sex drive and so preserve the honor of the clan, which derives from the males of the family being able preserve the chastity of their female members. But since the practice has pagan African origins it may originally have had other purposes.
The incidence of the practice has fallen from about 90% in the older generation to about 70% among younger Egyptian women; it is primarily a rural practice and seems to be declining as Egypt urbanizes. The complete ban, with penalties for medical personnel (modern or traditional) who carry out the procedure, should help end it, though folk practices are hard to change overnight.
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