This summer, many girls will have their lives changed forever. With school out, many families in Egypt and other countries will take their female children to perform the ancient ritual of circumcision.
Female circumcision, more accurately known as female genital mutilation, involves the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia by incision.
Some 125 million girls worldwide have undergone the procedure and one in four of those live in Egypt.
CNN reports there has been a small decrease in the proportion of mutilated women according to a government report that came out in May. It records that 92% of women have been mutilated, down from 97% in 2000.
The Egyptian government has recently taken a tougher line against the practice. In 2007 Egypt banned FGM after the death of a 12-year-old girl.
Egypt saw the first ever conviction of a doctor who performed FGM, in January 2015. Lawyer Reda el-Danbouki secured the conviction for manslaughter of a doctor whose performance of FGM led to the death of another 12-year-old girl, Sohair el-Batea.
But resistance to change remains strong. Following the conviction, Reda el-Danbouki received death threats from supporters of female genital mutilation.
In countries like the UK, girls from communities which practice female genital mutilation frequently fly girls out to the family’s country of origin during the summer holidays to have the girls mutilated. They may also fly in a ‘cutter’ for so-called ‘cutting parties’ to mutilate a group of girls at once, since this saves on the expense. This has led some to designate the summer holidays as the ‘cutting season.’
Last year in one town in Sweden, all 30 girls in one high school class were found to have been mutilated.
For more information about female genital mutilation see Clarion Project's Factsheet: Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)