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Cablegate: Egypt's Health Ministry Bans Fgm; Formal Anti-Fgm

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #2087 1891048
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081048Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6028

UNCLAS CAIRO 002087

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SOCI PREL PGOV KWMN KISL EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT'S HEALTH MINISTRY BANS FGM; FORMAL ANTI-FGM
LEGISLATION PENDING

REF: A. CAIRO 01948
B. CAIRO 00345

1. (U) SUMMARY: Following the June 23 issuance of a
televised fatwa banning female genital mutilation (FGM) by
Egypt's Mufti (Ref A), Health Minister Dr. Hatem Al-Gabaly
issued a decree on June 28 banning the practice. Formal
legislation affirming the Health Minister's decree is pending
until the People's Assembly reconvenes in mid-November. At
the same time, anti-FGM advocacy by First Lady Suzanne
Mubarak has focused increased attention on the issue of FGM
in Egypt. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On June 28, Minister of Health Al-Gabaly issued a
decree placing a permanent ban on the practice of FGM. The
decree stated: "it is prohibited for any doctors, nurses, or
any other person to carry out any cut of, flattening, or
modification of any natural part of the female reproductive
system, whether in government hospitals, non-government
facilities, or any other places." This ban is not
enforceable as law, which would require GOE efforts to move
forward formal legislation banning FGM. In the last week,
Al-Gabaly stated that the GOE is formulating anti-FGM
legislation to criminalize the practice, which will be
considered in the next session of the People's Assembly
(currently adjourned, but which will begin a new session in
mid-November). In the interim, the Health Ministry is
reportedly organizing awareness campaigns regarding the
dangers of FGM, which will include 13,000 "female leaders"
from rural areas.

3. (U) First Lady Suzanne Mubarak's public anti-FGM campaign
has increased political will necessary for the GOE to address
the issue. Mrs. Mubarak has long campaigned against the
practice of genital cutting and recently announced that the
elimination of FGM in Egypt should be a national priority.
At a June 26 meeting of the National Council for Childhood
and Motherhood (NCCM), Mrs. Mubarak announced a slogan for a
national anti-FGM campaign: "The Beginning of the End." She
declared that FGM is a violation of girls' rights and
advocated for action on religious, educational, and
legislative levels in Egypt. On June 29, Mrs. Mubarak
convened a senior-level meeting with representatives from the
Ministry of Health and the Doctors' Syndicate to discuss
combating FGM.

4. (U) As a follow-up to the Mufti's controversial televised
June 23 fatwa (Ref A), Dar Al Iftaa (the Mufti's formal
office) issued a July 3 statement asserting that FGM is
"religiously forbidden" and it is "a harmful social practice
that is not required by Islam."

5. (U) COMMENT: These developments, following the Mufti's
unprecedented fatwa, are encouraging steps in Egypt's efforts
to combat FGM. We will closely track GOE efforts to move
forward formal legislation banning FGM.

RICCIARDONE

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