Egypt: The oppression people aren’t talking about

Picture by Nick Bygon

The Egyptian political crisis seems to  be drawing fewer headlines now the campaign to remove President Mubarak has lost some of its momentum, though protestors are still camping out in Tahrir Square, determined to force a change of government.

But the oppression nobody seems to be concerned about is the ongoing one which is carried out against young girls every day.

Female Genital Mutilation [FGM] is still performed on millions of girls every year. Its prevalence in certain parts of Africa are shocking, above 90% in Egypt, Somalia, Djibouti, northern Sudan, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

In most of these countries the practice is illegal.

Senegalese hip-hop star Sister Fa spoke to the Observer on Sunday.  She is part of the campaign to eliminate the practice, and though some prevalence rates have been reduced [in Egypt it has fallen from 97% to 91% over the past decade] there is still a long way to go.  She told the Observer:

“Cutting is still here, a lot of women are in prison, but cutting is still here, nothing is changing, there are a lot of laws to punish people, but it’s prevention we need.”

She also spoke about the ineffectiveness of NGOs in Africa, because they lack the cultural sensitivity to tackle the issue.

In this area the human rights project is limited, perceived as inherently western and seemingly patronising towards African culture.

So perhaps human rights organisations are not best equipped to deal with the problem, but acknowledging this fact does not mean accepting FGM as a part of African culture.

Violence and mutilation should not be swept under the carpet as a part of life, wherever that life exists.

Sunday was international day against female genital mutilation.

No FGM symbol. Picture by Blatant World

The full interview with Sister Fa can be read here


About Rachel Conner

Rachel Conner is currently a postgraduate newspaper journalism student at Cardiff University. She graduated in 2010 from the University of Durham with an LLB. View all posts by Rachel Conner

2 responses to “Egypt: The oppression people aren’t talking about

  • seangriffiths

    I read the article in The Observer on Sunday and found it interesting and a cause which does deserve a lot more media attention. The figures for Egypt (falling from 97% to 91%) struck me as odd as the country has a large Arabic population and I’d always assumed this was a custom practised mainly by black Africans and not Arabs and Muslims. Maybe my assumptions were wrong, do you have any more information on this?

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