Diplomatic briefs

18-02-2013 04:02 PM

Mary Fikry - Maged Samir

Against female cutting
The International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting was marked in Cairo earlier this month with a conference held jointly by the National Population Council

Against female cutting
The International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting was marked in46.jpg Cairo earlier this month with a conference held jointly by the National Population Council, the UN Population Fund, and the United Nations children##s agency, UNICEF. 
New data announced by the UN shows that fewer girls are being subjected to genital mutilation, a centuries-old practice stemming from the belief that circumcising girls controls women’s sexuality and enhances fertility.
In the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated, the UN said an average of 36 per cent of girls aged 15-19 have been cut, compared to an estimated 53 per cent of women aged 45-49.
In Kenya, for example, women aged 45-49 are three times more likely to have been cut than girls aged 15-19, the UN said.
The new estimates, produced by UNICEF, show that at least 120 million girls and women have experienced female genital mutilation in the 29 countries.
Given present trends, the UN said, as many as 30 million girls under the age of 15 may still be at risk.
In December, the UN General Assembly unanimously approved a non-binding resolution calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation.
The UN described the situation in Egypt as a “setback” where the rights of women and children are concerned. Reference was made to the court case filed by a number of Islamist lawyers against banning FGM, on grounds that the ban contradicted Islamic sharia (Islamiclaw). Yet Abdel-Hamid Abaza, deputy to Egypt’s Health Minister, said that Egypt is honouring all the international treaties it had signed on battling FGM, and that venerable Islamic institutions such as al-Azhar and Dar al-Iftaa’ (the body entitled to issue fatwa, Islamic legal opinion) have pronounced FGM to have nothing to do with Islam, and have actively conducted awareness campaigns of the hazards the practice involves. Mr Abaza said the Health Ministry has banned the performance of FGM.
For her part, Professor of Islamic Philosophy Amna Nosseir confirmed that female circumcision was a community tradition not an Islamic principle. “Those who claim it is an Islamic teaching,” Dr Nosseir said, “base their argument on an Islamic text that is considered by scholars to be weak and not reliable.” The practice, she said, was more spread in rural and underprivileged areas, meaning it is obviously linked to how well-educated the community is.   
Film festival
The Italian cultural centre in Cairo premises has hosted the Qabila short film festival: aselection 45.jpgof Egyptian, Middle-Eastern, and European short feature films organised by the independent media venture Qabila Media Productions. This year’s jury included Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq, Amr Salama, Mohamed Hifzy, Muhammad Bayazid and Sandra Nashaat. 
The short feature films winners of this year’s edition are: Mahmoud Mohamed’s In & Out (Egypt), Omar Rashed’s Chaos (Egypt), Nagham Abboud’s Behind the Window (Lebanon), Juan Pablo’s Luminaris (Spain), Remon Botros Ghali’s Tamer Flew Away (Egypt), Ali Heraize’s Bondoq  (Egypt), Nader al-Maghraby’s Accidentally (Egypt), Damian Donisio’s La Mirada Perdida (Spain), Joseph Farid’s Yurga E3adet Sha7n al-Muwatin (Please Recharge the Citizen) (Egypt), Adolf El 3asal’s Mano de Dios – (Luxemburg), Hussien Aly Ogail’s Slow Death (Egypt), Josecho de Linaris’s Mi Ojo Derecho (Spain), Amr Shalaan’s Anbooba (Tube) (Egypt), Sandrine Samuel Halim’s Few Hours (Egypt), and Eyad Adnan Horani’s C The C (Palestine). 
Round the world
Cairo was proud to host the Indian cyclist Somen Debnath who arrived at the Egyptian capitalon 4 February. Debnath is on a “Around the World Bicycle Tour for HIV/AIDS44.JPG Awareness Programme & Presentation of Indian Culture”, which started on 27 May 2004, just two days after he acquired a Bachelor degree in Zoology from the University of Calcutta.
He had also completed Visarad in Fine Arts from the Sarbabhartiya University. 
On reaching Cairo, Debnath had already made 94,050km over 32 countries in Asia, 36 in Europe, and four in Africa. He says he believes that men and women are on earth for a special mission each, to leave an impact that would inspire future generations to shape their own world.” He visits schools, hospitals, homes for the aged, and orphanages.
Debnath says: “My goal is to cover 191 countries till 2020. I will travel 200,000km in whole world and reach nearly 20 million people. 118,000km I will travel for charity. That’s why I##m selling my kilometres to people. The support I will get from people buying my kilometres will 42.jpghelp me fulfil my other dream: to build a global village in my native place, Basanti, Sundarbans.”
Debnath is originally a resident of the village of Basanti, which is located in Sundarbans in West Bengal. He describes Sundarbans as a great mangrove forest and the largest tiger reserve in India. 
Watani International
18 February 2013
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