Elhamy Agina. Precisely how nutty is this Egyptian MP? Don’t get me wrong – We’re familiar with nutty politicians – we’ve got our own in the news today describing what “real men’s” jobs are!
But this, rightly incendiary, Inde story reports a politician explaining why FGM must continue – despite being illegal in Egypt. His exposition is that it’s mainly to do with weak men and poorly controlled male sexuality. This is equally nutty and irresponsible and it’s certainly not taught by Islam.
But then you read that 90% of Egyptian women are FGM’d. So instead of being a nut, the Egyptian MP becomes a representative of the people (despite or including his obvious male, patriarchal attitudes).
The BBC also reports: “MP Ilhami Agina responded by saying FGM was needed in order to reduce women’s sexual appetite, to match Egypt’s men.” So he’s saying, let’s reduce whatever female sexual desire because “We are a population whose men suffer from sexual weakness”. So the practice of FGM means men are tempted less. It would be interesting to hear from Egypt’s females.
FGM is female genital mutilation where the clitoris or sometimes the entire exterior genitals are removed with a razor.
The trouble is, this is not the half of it. FGM is something practiced right across Africa in 28 of its 53 countries. It has a long tribal tradition and is clearly something which happens in different forms across the continent.
Jomo Kenyatta, once president of Kenya, explains the tradition of FGM saying that,
“The operation is (still) regarded as the very essence of an institution which has enormous educational, social, moral and religious implications, quite apart from the operation itself. For the present it is impossible for a member of the tribe to imagine an initiation without clitordectomy (FGM). Therefore, the abolition of the surgical element in this custom means to the Gikuyu the abolition of the whole institution.”
This gets to the core of it. It’s an essential part of your tribal definition, as a woman. It’s a teenage rite of passage to adulthood. We don’t have that here. There’s almost nothing we can compare it too. Our male tribalism is confined to which football team you support! Or what political party! Or a kneejerk patriotism whenever our country goes to war on another.What else? Your first sex? Passing your driving test? There’s no comparison.
And it’s not as if women didn’t have enough to put up with in the normal scheme of bodily processes either.
I remain amazed that Egypt, surely one of Africa’s more progressive countries, has a FGM rate of 90%. The same Inde article announces 1242 new cases of FGM in the UK in the first 3 months of this year. If this is still done here for tribal reasons – what is the male equivalent? What torture or mutilation do the teenage boys go through?
Egypt has raised sentencing for FGM to 5-7 years for perpetrators.
It’s time to put these negative tribal practices behind us, as a species.