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Female genital mutilation persists in rural Egypt

Although the practice of female genital mutilation in Egypt has decreased, the phenomenon is still omnipresent in villages, prompting civil society and the government to initiate a campaign to raise awareness.
A counsellor talks to a group of women to try to convince them that they should not have FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) performed on their daughters in Minia, Egypt June 13, 2006. To match feature: HEALTH CIRCUMCISION/EGYPT. Picture taken June 13, 2006 REUTERS/Tara Todras-Whitehill (EGYPT) - RTX12LR
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CAIRO — I vividly remember, when I was little, those collective ceremonies that our neighbors from rural areas — from Upper Egypt in particular — used to have for their daughters. They used to hand out sweet rice dishes and the girls used to wear brand new white clothes, as if they were brides. However, I never understood why they would lean against their mothers to be able to walk and why they couldn’t play with the rest of us during ceremonies that were held specifically for them.

This scene, depicting female genital mutilation (FGM) ceremonies, is no longer common in Cairo or in other big Egyptian cities. This is probably due to several reasons, including the fact that many rural families have gotten used to urban civil life and abandoned such traditions known in the countryside. In addition, the Egyptian community’s negative look at FGM also had a role in it, as well as the fact that civil society organizations came together with the Egyptian government to fight this tradition and criminalize it in 2008 under the Egyptian Child Law.

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