CAIRO: A Cairo woman filed a divorce lawsuit after her husband forced her to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM,) the complications of which led to a hysterectomy, Youm7 reported.
After 21 months of marriage that culminated in a baby, the 28-year old wife succumbed to pressure by her husband and family to undergo the surgery because he travels a lot and feared she may fall for another man, according to her statements to the Family Court in Imbaba district.
“My husband is educated but … he treated me aggressively and oppressed me. He deprived me of my [marital] rights and I was afraid to ask for anything from him so he does not think I am immoral,” said the wife, identified as E.S.
E.S. did not file for divorce that gives her financial rights. In Egypt, if men do not consent to divorce, a woman must prove harm caused her by the marriage in order for a judge to sever the union, and guarantee financial support from her ex-husband. Such lawsuits are often drawn-out.
E.S. opted for Khul’a, a faster legal procedure for women who wish to divorce their husbands after they refuse to consent to a divorce, through which they forfeit any financial rights and may also pay the husband.
“My husband always doubts me, questions my honor and is worried about every glance I take at any other man in fear of falling in love with him and betraying him,” said E.S., who left her husband’s home six months ago.
“After my pregnancy, I thought that a baby would make him trust me and stabilize our relationship, but on the contrary, our relationship worsened, especially with his frequent travelling abroad,” she added.
E.S. continued to say that one day her husband came home to beat her and demanded her to go to a doctor he knows to go through FGM so he “rests assured while away.” She left to her parents’, but her family told her divorce was no longer an option because of the baby.
After the operation, E.S. suffered inflammation and bleeding, eventually losing her uterus, according to her statements to the court.
FGM in Egypt, types and prevalence
FGM is typically performed on girls aged 4-12, but may also be carried out within any other age group.
The practice is concentrated in many African states. More than 90 percent of married Egyptian women in the age group (15-49 years) have been circumcised, according to a 2014 report by the Demographic Health Survey.
Meanwhile, 61 percent of girls aged 15-17 years have undergone the practice, marking a decline of more than 13 percent compared to a 2008 survey.
FGM Free Village Model Program at the Ministry of Health, Vivian Fouad, announced in May 2015 that a strategic plan will be implemented to reduce FGM rate in Egypt to 15 percent over the next five years.
Some 76 percent of girls undergo FGM at the hands of licensed doctors, despite its illegality, whereas midwives circumcise only 22 percent, according to a population health survey issued by the Ministry of Health in March 2015.
The most common forms of FGM in Egypt are Type I, clitoridectomy, and Type II, excision, which entails the complete or partial removal of the inner labia with or without clitoridectomy and the removal of the outer labia, according to the World Health Organization.
Additional reporting by Asmaa Shalaby.