Genital Mutilation

Islamist Parliamentarian Objects to Egypt's Ban on FGM

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Egypt's Azza El Garf, a longstanding female representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, strays from women's rights activists and opposes illegalization of genital cutting. She also carves a separate path on issues such as divorce and family.

CAIRO, Egypt (WOMENSENEWS) -- Azza El Garf, a prominent figure in the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, offers a profile in political contradiction.

She shares her party's family-first view of a woman's place, but at the same time plays a pioneering role in the minuscule minority -- just 1 percent -- of women serving in the country's post-revolution houses of parliament.

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"People here think women can be a doctor, go to university, be a teacher or an engineer," El Garf said in a recent interview in Arabic conducted through a translator. "But people still think 'women are no good at politics.' We want to change this view."

She condemns the notorious "virginity tests" that military officers and doctors are accused of perpetrating on a group of female protesters in March 2011.

But she disagrees with Egypt's 2008 ban on female cutting, which opponents call genital mutilation. The World Health Organization defines it as the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

"It is a personal decision and each woman can decide based on her needs. If she needs it, she can go to a doctor," El Garf said, adding that the Muslim Brotherhood refers to the practice as beautification plastic surgery. She was adamant that it was a woman's choice, and hers alone, to have the outlawed procedure and should be done in consultation with a trained medical professional.

El Garf insisted that Islamists will uphold women's rights. But she also said divorce had become too easy. By declining to specify how that affects her legal views, the comment is likely to reinforce expectations that Islamists will seek to roll back women's divorce rights, as Hoda Badran, chairwoman of the newly resurrected Egyptian Feminist Union, warned in a January interview with Women's eNews.

In 2005, Egypt passed a law allowing Muslim women a no-fault divorce for which they can file in court without needing permission from their husbands or male relatives.

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"It is a personal decision and each woman can decide based on her needs. If she needs it, she can go to a doctor," Yes - every six to eight year old girl knows exactly whether or not she needs to have her genitals mutilated.
Is this why the youth gave their lives in Tahrir Square?

Can someone ask her if for FGM she is with "It is a personal decision and each woman can decide based on her needs." Why does this not apply to divorce. Isn't it true here too " It is personal decision and each women can decide on her needs" She thinks divorce (legally) is easy and wants to make it hard while at the same to FGM is hard and she wants to make it easy. Isn't there a contradiction. Sad she is a lawmaker. May God help us.