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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
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  • “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)

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  • 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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Epidurals Can be Cut Into Half, with the Help of a New Labour Pain Relieving Drug

It did not cause any negative effects for the mother or baby.

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Labour pain relieving drug may cut need for epidural: Lancet
Labour pain relieving drug may cut need for epidural: Lancet. Flickr

Prescribing women a new drug called remifentanil to help manage their labour pain may halve the need for an epidural than the traditional pethidine, claims a study.

The study, published in the Lancet, suggested that using remifentanil instead of pethidine could reduce the need for epidurals, instrumental deliveries and consequent morbidity for large numbers of women worldwide.

Epidurals — injections of pain relief drugs around the spinal cord — provide effective pain relief but increase the risk of needing instrumental delivery (forceps or vacuum) during birth.

It can also increase the risk of trauma and long-lasting problems for the mother, such as incontinence and sexual dysfunction.

“Our findings challenge the routine use of pethidine for pain relief during labour,” said lead author Matthew Wilson, from Britain’s University of Sheffield.

"Remifentanil reduced the need for an epidural by half and there were no lasting problems for the mothers and babies
“Remifentanil reduced the need for an epidural by half and there were no lasting problems for the mothers and babies. Pixabay

“Remifentanil reduced the need for an epidural by half and there were no lasting problems for the mothers and babies in our trial, although the effect of remifentanil on maternal oxygen levels needs to be clarified in further studies,” he added.

Remifentanil is rarely offered routinely in labour and its use restricted to women who cannot receive an epidural for medical reasons (such as blood clotting disorders).

Conversely, pethidine has been in widespread use since the 1950s, even after long been known not helpful to all women.

The study included 400 women aged over 16 years old who were giving birth after 37 weeks.

Only half as many women in the remifentanil group went on to have an epidural (19 per cent) than in the pethidine group (41 per cent).

Remifentanil instead of pethidine could reduce the need for epidurals. Flickr
Remifentanil instead of pethidine could reduce the need for epidurals. Flickr

These women rated their pain as less severe and also had less likely to need forceps and vacuum during labour than women given pethidine (15 per cent vs 26 per cent).

Also Read: Obesity During Pregnancy May up Kid’s Risk of Epilepsy

However, remifentanil was associated with twice as many mothers having low oxygen levels than pethidine (14 per cent vs 5 per cent)

But, despite this increase it did not cause any negative effects for the mother or baby, but more research in larger groups will be needed to confirm this, the researchers said.(IANS)