Egypt's women 'must accept FGM to match sexually-impotent men'
An Egyptian member of parliament has sparked controversy after encouraging women to undergo Female Genital Mutilation in order to "reduce their libido" and "match the sexual impotence" of Egypt's men.
"Our male population suffers from sexual impotence," said Elhamy Agina, according to Egyptian website Parlmany.
"This is evident in the fact that Egypt is one of the biggest consumers of sexual stimulants," he added.
"If we stop carrying out FGM, we will need strong men, and we do not have men of that sort."
He also suggested that it would be better for women to undergo the procedure as it "reduces a woman's libido", and that women must "stand by their men" so Egyptian husbands and wives could live in concord.
Agina has recently come under the spotlight for supporting the procedure, which involves the removal of the clitoris, and sometimes even more extreme mutilation, in a bid to control women's sexuality.
Many Egyptian parents believe the procedure guarantees purity and chastity by quelling their girls' sexual desires, making them, as they claim, more attractive for marriage.
The ritual procedure, dating back thousands of years, is often conducted by a charlatan healer on pre-pubescent girls using a razor blade and no anesthetic.
Victims of the procedure are left to cope with a range of consequences from bleeding and pain while urinating, extreme discomfort during sexual activity, fatal complications in childbirth and deep psychological trauma.
Egypt banned FGM in 1996 and criminalised it in 2008, and last week, the Cabinet approved a bill increasing jail terms for people who perform the procedure and those who escort the girls to the practice.
|If we stop carrying out FGM, we will need strong men, and we do not have men of that sort
- Elhamy Agina
The new bill increased the statutory prison term recommended for offenders into five to seven years, instead of the earlier penalty ranging from three months to three years.
However, FGM remains a widespread practice in Egypt.
A 2013 UNICEF report found that Egypt had the world's highest number of FGM cases.
At that time, a total of 27.2 million girls and women had undergone the procedure in Egypt, and 77 percent of the cases were performed by medical professionals, the report found.
According to another study, conducted by the Egyptian health ministry in 2015, almost nine in 10 women aged 15-49 had undergone the procedure.
The study found the practice was more prevalent among rural and uneducated women, while lower rates were observed among women living in urban areas and those with higher levels of wealth and education.
In addition, the study revealed that a large number of men and women believed FGM was tolerated by Islam.
However, Egypt's top Islamic authority has condemned the act as "un-Islamic" and even "barbaric".
In 2007, the Azhar Supreme Council for Islamic Research explained in a statement that the practice had no basis in the core Islamic Sharia or any of its partial provisions.