Minister of State for Population Hala Youssef announced the 2014 population survey results during the first ministerial committee meeting, to outline a national development plan for mothers and children in Egypt Thursday.
The survey tackled issues related to violence against children, child labour, child marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM), amongst other societal issues.
The national survey showed that 61% of girls between 15 to 17 years of age underwent FGM during 2014, compared to 74% during 2008.
“This is the first time we have data on this smaller age group of girls, we always used to work on girls from 15 to 49 years old,” Randa Fakhr El-Din, director of the NGO Coalition Against FGM, told Daily News Egypt.
“The higher you go with age, the more cases you find of girls who have undergone FGM. So, since 2008, we have been targeting the young girls to save them from the potential risks of FGM,” she added.
The coalition, which works under the supervision of the non-profit gender federation, provides comprehensive support for girls with potential exposure to FGM. According to Fakhr El-Din, the coalition works through 120 local NGOs across 14 governorates in Egypt, by providing comprehensive educational, cultural and entertainment activities to leverage the quality of life and standard of living for the girls.
“FGM is a form of violence against the children, and is triggered by many variables affecting the way they are brought up and their demographics from rural to urban including the quality of education,” she said.
The survey also reviewed numbers related to violence against children, which showed that nearly half of children aged between three to four years old were exposed to physical abuse during 2014. It also found that 91% of children aged between one and 14 years of age were exposed to psychological abuse.
Ahmed Hanafy, head of the child rescue department at the National Council for Childhoodand Motherhood, told Daily News Egypt: “A significant increase took place in the violence rates against children since 2011.”
However, he said the major reason behind violence against children in Egypt is deeply rooted and faulty parenting attitudes, as parents constantly hit their children instead of mentoring them when they make mistakes.
According to Hanafy, the council does not receive many reports from rural areas compared to urban ones, but that is not because violence does not exist there. He says this is because people in rural areas are more silent, and usually, in such closed communities, unlike urban ones, people resort to peaceful resolutions rather than escalating the problem. Hanafy also said that their concept of human rights is different.
According to Hanafy, the prevalence of child abuse is also interrupted by many external factors, such as the recent TV shows targeting children, which have increasingly become full of violent scenes. There is also an absence of real, constructive dialogue between many children and their parents due to the faster pace of life, especially when it comes to working mothers.
Nearly one in every six families in Egypt are financed by woman, according to the recent survey results. The minister said: “This is a huge burden, especially on families living under the poverty line.”
Meanwhile, Youssef has also announced that the ministry is planning to convene an international population conference as a part of the national strategy for population post-2015 until 2030. She also met with a group of 26 youths on Friday, to discuss related issues and outline the strategy.
The 2015-2030 local strategy comes amid an international move towards sustainable development adopted by the United Nations, where there are new strategies for enhancing standards of livings worldwide post-2015 until 2030.