The Egyptian Parliament has passed a new legislation that bans female circumcision and changes the legal minimum age for marriage to 18 years for both male and female.
Previously, Egyptian girls were allowed to legally marry at the age of 16.
The legislation, which was passed on Sunday, prescribes a jail time of two years or a fine of US$200 to US$1,000 for those who breach the ban on female circumcision.
Under the new law, which comes to effect immediately, female circumcision can only be carried out in cases of “medical necessity.”
International rights groups welcomed the decision, describing it as a step in the right direction for Egypt.
The passage of the legislation did not come easily, as some Members of Parliament argued that it goes against Islamic principles and that it was another attempt by the West to impose its beliefs on Egyptians.
However, most Islamic scholars welcomed the decision, saying it was long overdue.
According to some accounts, about 97 percent of Egyptian women have been circumcised.
The practice, which is particularly widespread in the countryside, often leads to death, infection and psychological trauma, international rights group Amnesty International said. Panapress .