Speaker of Egypt’s House of Representatives Hanafi Gebali announced, on Sunday, that the country’s leading Islamic authority, Al-Azhar, has approved the draft law amendment on female genital mutilation (FGM).
The amendment relates to toughening the penalties on the practice under Egypt’s Penal Code.
Gebali confirmed that Al-Azhar’s opinion was polled on the draft law submitted by the government, which toughen the penalty for FGM to up to 20 years imprisonment, instead of the previous maximum of seven years.
Last week, the constitutional and legislative affairs committee at Egypt’s House of Representatives approved the draft law.
The amendments had set a minimum of five years imprisonment for removing, modifying, or mutilating a part of a female’s genitals, and a minimum of seven years if the procedure causes permanent damage.
Doctors and nurses can face 10 years in prison if they perform the procedure and it results in permanent damage.
If a victim dies as a result of FGM, then the perpetrator can face 10 years in prison if they are not a medical practitioner, and 15 to 20 years if they are a doctor or nurse.
Those convicted of performing circumcision will be prevented from practicing their profession for five years, and the institution where the circumcision was performed will be closed.
The amendments also state that the person who requests the circumcision will also face a prison sentence. Those who promote, encourage, or incite others to commit FGM will also face prison terms, even if their actions do not directly lead to the crime being committed.
This is the second time the Egyptian authorities have toughened penalties for FGM, also known as female circumcision.
In 2016, the parliament passed amendments to the law criminalising FGM, making the practice a felony, and mandating stricter punishments for those convicted of performing the act.