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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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EU Leaders Agree Making the 28-member Bloc Carbon Neutral by 2050

EU agrees to become carbon neutral by 2050

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EU aims to become carbon neutral by 2050. Wikimedia Commons

BY VISHAL GULATI

European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have agreed to make the 28-member bloc carbon neutral by 2050.

However, coal-reliant Poland has been given time until June to fully endorse the commitment to implement the agreed EU objective.

Climate experts told IANS for the first time the EU leaders, who met in Brussels on Thursday, came out with a time-frame by agreeing to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, thereby opening the way to start a discussion on raising the EU’s 2030 climate target as soon as possible.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is at the UN climate change conference (COP25), said on Friday that he was encouraged by the fact that the European Union decided to move ahead with its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050.

“This example of #ClimateAction needs to be followed worldwide,” he tweeted.

Carbon Neutral
EU’s top priority is to reduce Carbon Emissions. Pixabay

In November last year the European Commission put forward a proposal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a much needed long-term goal to bring the EU closer to meeting the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement goal and keeping temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Wednesday’s European Green Deal communication indicates that the European Commission will propose a new, substantially increased 2030 climate target by summer 2020.

Now that the net-zero emission goal is endorsed, the EU’s top priority is to adopt a new, increased climate target for 2030 well before next year’s UN Climate Summit, COP 26, in November.

EU leaders invited the European Commission to present a proposal for a new EU 2030 climate target in good time ahead of the UN Climate Conference.

COP26, taking place in Glasgow, is the international deadline by which all parties to the Paris Agreement must submit new and far more ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions targets for 2030.

However, say climate experts, a couple of concessions were negotiated.

Poland has not been ready to fully commit to the implementation of the objective, but has also not blocked the collective endorsement of climate neutrality by 2050.

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Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe Director Wendel Trio told IANS: “Setting a target of net zero emissions by 2050 is a vital and necessary first step to limit the escalating climate crisis.”

“But to jump-start climate action now in line with the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal, the EU needs to increase its target for 2030, not just for 2050.” (IANS)