An Egyptian MP has stirred controversy after rejecting tougher penalties for those who force women into genital mutilation (FGM), saying half of the country’s men “are impotent”.
Parliament last week approved longer jail terms for those carrying out FGM, following the death of a teenage girl.
MP Ilhami Agina responded by saying FGM was needed in order to reduce women’s sexual appetite, to match Egypt’s men.
The procedure is still widespread in Egypt despite being illegal since 2008.
It involves the partial or full removal of the external sex organs, ostensibly to control women’s sexuality.
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“This is a scientific fact based on research. Fifty per cent of Egyptian men are sexually impotent. This is a disease,” Mr Agina said in a TV interview.
“One proof is the spread of imported and local sexual stimulants in the market. Egypt is one of the largest importing countries.”
He was quoted by other Egyptian media as saying the procedure was needed so women would “reduce their sexual desires” to match that of Egypt’s “sexually weak” men.
“If we stop FGM, we will need strong men and we don’t have men of that sort.”
What is female genital mutilation?
- FGM includes procedures that alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons
- More than 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with the consequences of FGM
- Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and increased risk of newborn deaths in childbirth
- The practice is mainly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who play other central roles in communities
- It is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15
- It is practised by both Muslims and Christians in a number of African countries and in parts of the Middle East
Source: World Health Organization
What is the situation in Egypt?
- Some 87% of girls and women aged between 15 and 49 in the country have undergone FGM, according to Unicef estimates
- But the number has been declining, Unicef says: In 1985, 97% of girls aged 15 to 19 had undergone the procedure; in 2015, that number was 70%
- It is not clear how many girls and women have died because of this practice. But in May, the death of a teenager due to complications caused by FGM prompted the UN to call on Egypt for tougher action
- As a reaction, parliament approved harsher sentences, with jail terms of between five and seven years for those who perform the procedure. Previously, the terms ranged from three months to two years
- A sentence of up to 15 years in prison was also approved for cases of death or deformity