9/6/16, "Female genital mutilation needed because Egyptian men are ‘sexually weak,’ lawmaker says," Washington Post,
Women should “reduce
their sexual desires” because Egyptian men are “sexually weak.”It was an outrageous argument, by any measure:
is what an Egyptian lawmaker, Elhamy Agina, claimed over the weekend in
making an argument in favor of female genital mutilation or FGM.
are a population whose men suffer from sexual weakness, which is
evident because Egypt is among the biggest consumers of sexual
stimulants that only the weak will consume,” Agina said, according to a
translation in Egyptian Streets, an English-language local news website.
“If we stop FGM, we will need strong men and we don’t have men of that
So it is better for women, he continued, to undergo the
brutal practice to “reduce a woman’s sexual appetite.” And by doing so,
he added, women would “stand by their men” and life would proceed
The centuries-old practice involves the partial or full removal of
the external sex organs, usually with a knife or razor blade, in a
belief that doing so reduces sexual desires. The cutting can lead to
urinary infections, menstrual problems, infertility and death, in
addition to psychological trauma.
The practice was banned in
Egypt in 2008. Since then, circumcising girls has been punishable by a
prison sentence of between three months and three years as well as a
hefty fine. Still, FGM remains a widespread practice here, as it is in
many other African nations and parts of the Middle East.
to the World Health Organization, Egypt has some of the highest rates
of FGM, in company with Somalia, Djibouti and Sierra Leone. A UNICEF
study in 2013 found that as many as 27.2 million women in Egypt have
The Egyptian cabinet recently approved a draft
law that would impose stiffer penalties for those who force girls and
women into FGM. Jail terms would range between five and seven years, and
harsher sentences would be imposed if the procedure leads to death or
deformity. In May, an Egyptian teenager died of complications after
undergoing FGM, propelling the United Nations to urge Egypt to enact
stricter punishments. The new legislation is awaiting ratification by
the parliament before it can become law.
By this week, Agina was backtracking on his comments. In one local
newspaper, Al Masry Al Youm, or the Egyptian Today, he clarified that
his rejection of the toughening of penalties for FGM was based on
how "it is hard to apply in Egypt."
And in a phone interview with TV host Eman Ezzuldine on Mehwar Channel that his comments were to be considered only a "jest."
"I don't get afraid, and I meant no offense to Egyptian men," Agina continued. "Egyptian men are true men, and I am a true man."
"Take my wife's phone number and ask her," he added.
With 500,000 female genital mutilation survivors or at risk in U.S., it’s not just someone else’s problem