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02 June 2007

Egyptian Villagers Explain Why They Circumcise Their Daughters

medium_clip_1467.jpgPresenter in studio: Many women fail to please their husbands because their families circumcised them when they were girls. Female circumcision still takes place, not only in the villages. For our show today, we talked

people from all levels of society. We went to clubs, to common places, and to the villages. Female circumcision exists everywhere. It exists in all strata of society, as well as in our minds and our tradition. In my opinion, female circumcision is a very barbaric act. It is barbaric because by performing it, we eliminate the woman's sensation during [sex]. Let's see, first of all, what people think in simple villages. Why do you circumcise your girls? How come, after all that's been said in the media, and after doctors and religious scholars have met with you, you still insist upon circumcising your girls?


A poll of rural Egyptian village residents:

Interviewer: In the Islamic religion, and in the villages and neighborhoods, it is always said that girls should be circumcised just like boys. Does it come from the Sunna, or is it a custom or yours?

Female villager: Circumcision is part of the Sunna of the Prophet. We used to bring a daya, and she would circumcise the children, but when the role of the daya was abolished, we stopped. Now we take our children to the doctor, and he circumcises them.

Interviewer: So it is the doctor who circumcises the girl?

Female villager: Yes. If a girl is not circumcised, she can't stand it. When she is circumcised, she is calm and has self-restraint. The circumcision protects the girl and makes her clam.


Interviewer: So you think all women should be circumcised to protect their honor.

Female villager: The Prophet said that the men go and wage Jihad for a year. He said that girls should be circumcised so they can bear it for a whole year until the men return.


Interviewer: What is your son called?

Another villager: His name is Amru.

Interviewer: If you had a girl, you would circumcise her too?

Villager: Yes.

Interviewer: You are all circumcised?

Villager: Yes.

Interviewer: Many people have appeared in the media, on TV, and have said that circumcision harms the girls. What do you think?

Villager: It doesn't do us any harm. We are used to it...

Interviewer: And it does not cause the woman any problems?

Villager: Not doing it is not normal.


Interviewer: If you had a girl, you would circumcise her...

Villager: I have a girl, and Allah willing, when she grows, I will circumcise her.

Interviewer: Don't you think that this is cruel to the girl, and that when she grows up and begins to understand, this will hurt her?

Villager: We all go through this. From the day we are born, we know this is ahead of us.

Interviewer: Don't you think that when such a thing happens to a girl, it affects her, and that when she grows up, she will think this was a bit cruel?

Villager: No.

Interviewer: So it's normal...

Villager: It's normal for us.

Besides, now with modern medicine, we take her to the doctor, and she doesn't fell a thing.


Interviewer: What doctor? In a hospital?

Villager: In a hospital, in a private clinic... A specialist doctor.

Interviewer: Is this circumcision expensive?

Villager: No, it's not. 50 Egyptian pounds for a boy, and 100 pounds for a girl.


Interviewer: Is female circumcision a regular thing for you people?

Villager: Yes.

Interviewer: Aren't there people who refrain from circumcising [their girls]?

Villager: No, all women are circumcised.

Interviewer: So it's a must...

Villager: Yes.

Interviewer: It has been said that circumcision is harmful to the girl's health.

Villager: We have never prevented it, because a girl must be circumcised. She must. It doesn't affect her at all. It would affect her if she didn't. But this way, the girl becomes smart and calm, and then she grows tall and beautiful.

Interviewer: If she's circumcised, she grows tall and beautiful?

Villager: Yes.


Interviewer: Why do you all believe in female circumcision?

Another villager: Because we are all brought up this way.

Interviewer: Have you circumcised your girls?

Villager: I have four girls, and I circumcised them all.

Interviewer: Did you do it yourself or did you go to a doctor?

Villager: No, a daya did it.

Interviewer: It's not done by some friend of the mother or someone like that?

Villager: No, it is someone who is known in the village.

Interviewer: Is she still around?

Villager: Yes.

Interviewer: And she still performs circumcisions?

Villager: Yes.

Interviewer: How much does it cost?

Villager: She takes you give her... 10 Egyptian pounds... You pay whatever you can afford.

Interviewer: Doesn't it hurt the girl who is being circumcised?

Villager: No. She performs the circumcision, and the girl sits in warm water, and everything is fine.

Interviewer: The girl doesn't scream and cry?

Villager: She does, but we hold her down and the woman cuts it.


Interviewer: When you hold her down, doesn't it affect her psychologically?

Villager: It does, but then she calms down.

Interviewer: Don't you think she remembers this when she grows up?

Villager: No, that's it. She will be happy about it.


Villager sheik: They are used to this custom in the rural areas. But this is wrong. This custom is wrong.

Interviewer: You are not advising...

Sheik: I say not to do it, but they say: Our mothers did it and our grandmother did it.

Interviewer: Wasn't your daughter circumcised?

Sheik: She was. Here's my wife. She circumcised her behind my back.

Interviewer: Behind your back?

Sheik: Yes.


Interviewer: In these villages, a woman can do something behind her husband's back?

Sheik: In the villages, the women are the men.

Interviewer: Sheik, how can you say such a thing? Is it possible that she would circumcise your daughter behind your back?

Sheik: We are simple people, and nobody says: I am the man, and that's it...


Interviewer: You would not want to have your granddaughter circumcised?

Sheik: No, I wouldn't, because I want her to enjoy her husband, and her husband to enjoy her.


Sheik's wife: You gave birth to 21 children?

Interviewer: Did you really circumcise your girl behind your husband's back?

Sheik's wife: I circumcised four girls.

Interviewer: Behind your husband's back?

Sheik's wife: Yes.

Interviewer: Why?

Sheik's wife: Otherwise, when they go to college, the girls will cause scandals and get married. Those who do it...

Interviewer: What's the problem if they get married?

Sheik's wife: What, to get married behind my back?

Interviewer: Ah, you meant unofficial marriages?

Sheik's wife: yes, they get married unofficially, and then we hear awful things about them.

Interviewer: And circumcision is the solution?

Sheik's wife: Yes.


Otherwise, it drives her crazy, and she gets married behind her mother and father's back. So we circumcise them.


Woman: We are all circumcised here. I don't know why you are dealing with the subject of female circumcision.

Interviewer: Why do you think people circumcise their girls?

Woman: For the sake of purity and modesty... So that when the girls grow up, they won't do awful things, but basically, it goes back to education.

Interviewer: Do you think if they are circumcised, they won't do awful things?

Woman: They will anyway.


Many girls who are circumcised still do awful things.

Interviewer: So why do we need it?

Woman: That's not the reason. We believe it protects the girls.

Interviewer: Do you arrange a celebration like with boys?

Woman: No, but we are happy, and we them something new to wear.

Interviewer: Tell me, when the girl grows up, won't she remember this...

Woman: She will remember, but... Some people are happy about it, and some aren't.

Interviewer: Do you remember yours?

Woman: I was too small to remember.


Interviewer: Some say female circumcision causes marital problems. What do you think?

Woman: Yes, it's true.

Interviewer: Do you believe in female circumcision?

Woman: When I was young, it happened to me.

Interviewer: It didn't affect your marital life at all?

Woman: No, but I've heard many people say it affects them. There are problems because of female circumcision.

Interviewer: Does it lead to divorce?



Interviewer: Do you believe in female circumcision?

Woman: Yes, of course.

Interviewer: Why?

Woman: First of all, it is our custom. I'm not talking about circumcision the way it used to be. That kind of circumcision was wrong.

Interviewer: Why?

Woman: It was not done properly.

The proper thing to do is to go to a doctor, and the doctor determines whether the girls needs it or not. The doctor knows exactly what he is doing, but...


Interviewer: So if the doctor told you your daughter didn't need it – that would be it?

Woman: Yes.

Interviewer: You wouldn't have her circumcised?

Woman: If the doctor told me she didn't need it, that would be it.


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