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Human Rights Watch appeals Egypt to enact new and harsher legal penalties to curb female genital mutilation (FGM) practices

"FGM is needed to curb women's sexuality " says Ilhami Agena, a lawmaker from Egypt speaking against the request

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FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2014, photo, relatives of 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea who died undergoing the procedure of female circumcision walk in front of her home in Dierb Biqtaris village, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Cairo, Egypt. Source: VOA
  • “Broader law reform is needed to adequately combat this horrific practice” says Rothna Begum from HRW
  • An estimated 90 percent of Egyptian women have undergone some form of the forced procedure
  • Ilhami Agena, a lawmaker commented on the topic saying “If women are not circumcised, they will become sexually strong and there will be a problem”

A leading international rights group on Friday called on Egypt to enact new legal penalties for the widespread practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The appeal by Human Rights Watch (HRW) came over a week after the Egyptian parliament voted in favor of toughening penalties for FGM, adopting amendments that will punish perpetrators with 15 years in prison if a child dies and up to seven years for performing the procedure.

Rothna Begum, the Middle East women’s rights researcher at HRW, said that the stricter penalties now “reflect the horrific and potentially deadly consequences of this discriminatory practice.” But she added that a “broader law reform is needed to adequately combat this horrific practice” and warned that tens of thousands of girls remain at risk.

The centuries-old practice, misguidedly believed to control women’s sexuality, was criminalized in Egypt in 2008. However, it remains widespread and an estimated 90 percent of Egyptian women have undergone some form of the forced procedure.

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Genital mutilation is practiced among both Muslims and Christians, and social pressures are strong – many families fear that an uncircumcised daughter will be unable to marry.

While the amendments passed without much resistance, a lawmaker sparked an outcry after saying in remarks published in media last week that FGM is needed to curb women’s sexuality and to counterbalance allegedly widespread male impotence in Egypt.

Ilhami Agena claimed that 64 percent of Egyptian men suffer from impotence, citing increased sales of Viagra.

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“If women are not circumcised, they will become sexually strong and there will be a problem,” an imbalance leading to divorce, he added.

In response, female activist Janet Abdel-Aleem mocked Agena, suggesting the government should subsidize Viagra instead of circumcising women. (VOA)

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Good atleast initiatives are taken by human rights watch. It’s a serious issue and should anyhow be taken care of not to carry on such practices.

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Climate Change Affects Developing Countries the Most: UN

The African continent could leverage to its advantage in the global fight against the impacts of climate change

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Climate Change, Developing Countries
the least responsible countries suffer the most from the global threat that emanated from climate change. Pixabay

United Nations officials on Wednesday said developing nations were facing the brunt of climate change despite their little contribution to the problem.

A joint statement was made by Mary Robinson, Ireland’s former President and UN Special Envoy on El Nino and Climate, and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Vera Songwe during a climate-focused meeting in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

Robinson said, “those who suffer the worst effects of climate change are often the least responsible for it”.

She called for the need for climate justice as the least responsible countries suffer the most from the global threat that emanated from climate change, Xinhua news agency reported.

Climate Change, Developing Countries
Developing nations were facing the brunt of climate change despite their little contribution to the problem. Pixabay

Robinson was appointed UN Special Envoy along with Macharia Kamau of Kenya in 2016 to provide the leadership required to tackle climate-related challenges.

ECA’s Songwe said the African continent could leverage to its advantage in the global fight against the impacts of climate change.

“We didn’t create it, but we can profit the most from it. A climate smart economy is an extremely profitable economy. It’s an economy that will create more jobs and leave us cleaner and better,” Songwe said.

Mithika Mwenda, Executive Director of the Pan African Justice Alliance, said during the discussion climate justice was not getting the priority it deserved from governments.

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“Africa is most affected and impacted by climate change, but we don’t do much about it. We need strong governance systems to move the climate discourse and actions forward,” he said.

He urged the ECA to fortify collaboration with the African Union and the African Development Bank in line with the ClimDev-Africa programme that’s mandated by African leaders to create a solid foundation for Africa’s response to climate change. (IANS)