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Egypt cleric defends illegal practice of FGM for 'women with big clitorises' Open in fullscreen

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Egypt cleric defends illegal practice of FGM for 'women with big clitorises'

Egypt has the greatest number of women and girls who have experienced FGM [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 October, 2018

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An Egyptian cleric has defended the illegal practice of female genital mutilation, arguing it is necessary for women with "big clitorises".

An Egyptian cleric has defended the illegal practice of female genital mutilation, arguing it is necessary for women with "big clitorises".

Sheikh Abdel Hamid al-Atrash, who is the former head of Al-Azhar's fatwa committee, made the shocking comments to local news website El-Fagr on Thursday.

"Female circumcision is permissible if the clitoris is large and it must be trimmed. However, if it is small it does not need to be circumcised," Atrash was quoted as saying.

"Circumcising women with large clitorises reduces their excessive sexual desires and protects them from committing sins,"

He added that FGM is an "issue that differs from woman to woman" and used religious scripture to justify his remarks.

The sheikh comments come despite Egypt criminalising the practice in 2016.

Egypt has the greatest number of women and girls who have experienced FGM of any country in the world, with a prevalence of 87.2 percent among all women aged 15-49 in a population of nearly 95 million.

A report in June found that Egypt laws against FGM have not criminalised the procedure as medical malpractice.

The report said that laws against FGM in Egypt have not been adequately implemented and enforced to date.

In one well-publicised case following the death of a 13-year-old, the doctor convicted was sentenced to two years for manslaughter and three months' imprisonment for FGM.

FGM is the partial or full removal of the female external sex organs for no medical purposes - ostensibly to control women's sexuality.

In 2016, a lawmaker caused controversy after he encouraging women to undergo FGM in order to "reduce their libido" and "match the sexual impotence" of Egypt's men.

The procedure is common in some parts of the African continent, and practiced by both Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

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