In Egypt, CSI supports partners working in three areas: emergency aid and relief for the poor, education for children and young people, and raising awareness of social issues. One of these issues concerns female genital mutilation, or FGM.
The percentage of women undergoing FGM in Egypt is among the highest in the world. It is particularly common in rural areas of Upper Egypt. A nationwide ban on the practice in 2008 has had little impact. CSI supports local partners who raise awareness of this issue in the communities most affected.
Women’s discussion groups are at the heart of the project. Here, the topic is discussed openly and information is provided about the fact that FGM is not a religious commandment, as many claim.
One participant says: “I had marital problems for years because of circumcision. That’s why I tried to convince my mother not to circumcise my three younger sisters.”
But her mother could not be persuaded – until she attended a discussion group. “I’m glad that thanks to this discussion group, my sisters don’t have to go through the same experience I did,” the participant says.
There is strong social pressure to circumcise girls in rural Egypt. Misinformation is rife, and the tradition is ingrained in village life.
A CSI project partner explains how she tries to deal with the issue sensitively: “It is counterproductive to condemn the decisions that women or their families have made. That’s why we put a lot of emphasis on sharing experiences. When women tell others that they have decided against FGM, they realize that there is an alternative.”
An exchange about marriage and family issues can also be beneficial for men. But especially in rural areas, such workshops are difficult to organize.
Nevertheless, our partners did record some progress in 2022 through various discussion groups.
For example, one father said, “I used to beat my children when I came home from work stressed. Sometimes my wife too, as if that was normal. Now, however, I see it very differently.”
Thanks to this discussion group, he became aware of what triggered his actions and their consequences. As a result, his behavior towards his family changed completely.