Amel, 9, lives in Tamouh, Egypt. She believes that female genital mutilation (FGM) can and must be erased from Egyptian society.
Egypt has the third-highest rate of FGM worldwide with 91% of women and girls being subjected to the practice. Only Guinea and Somalia record more cases.
She is a proud Egyptian and likes to spend time with her friends like many other children. But in another sense, Amel is in an overwhelming minority in Egypt: she has chosen not to be circumcised.
Harmful effects on society
“I want to eradicate FGM from my village because it has many harmful effects on society,” she says. “It hurts a lot of girls.”
Amel is looking to use the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on 6 February to spread the message. “I would like to participate and get all my friends to encourage my community against FGM, to raise their awareness and eradicate the practice from the whole world,” she says.
Amel refused to be circumcised after a friend bled to death as a result of being cut. She has also attended sexual and reproductive health awareness sessions at the Tamouh community development association (CDA) – a local partner of Plan International. The project, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, aims to reduce harmful practices against girls such as child marriage and FGM.
Girls should choose
After learning about the negative impacts, Amel convinced her parents to let her choose. But she knows many other girls won’t be so lucky. “The sessions are very useful but as a community we need to spread the message. They need to expand and raise awareness worldwide.”
I want to eradicate FGM from my village because it has many harmful effects on society.
With the information she has learned and motivated by the death of her friend, Amel is determined to help other girls in her community. “We are trying to inform each other. If one of our friends is due to be circumcised we advise her against it,” she says.
“We inform her of the negative impacts and that she has to transmit them to her parents. We invite the whole family to attend awareness sessions at the CDA to understand the negative impact on girls.”
Despite its high prevalence in Egypt, Amel is optimistic that FGM can be stopped. She says, “This awareness will be spread by word of mouth in order to eradicate this harmful practice.”
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* Name has been changed to protect the person’s identity.