Clerics have debated it, doctors are divided about it, and parents are wary of it but some of them just follow tradition. Female genital mutilation (FGM), the practice of female circumcision, has been blamed for a wide range of health problems among women, ranging from death to the loss of libido. Although the procedure is formally illegal, enforcement of the law is still rare and girls in Egypt are still being circumcised in their thousands.

Mona, not her real name, was only 15 when her mother took her and her younger sister, then 14, to a doctor at a health clinic. The girls weren’t told what to expect. Now 35, Mona still recalls the experience with horror.

“If I gave birth to a daughter I would not have her circumcised. I would not subject her to the physical pain I still feel. The procedure is misguided and survives solely because of ignorance and a lack of awareness,” she said.

“When I got married and gave birth to my first son, the woman doctor who supervised the birth informed me that my circumcision had been badly done,” Mona added. “They say that the moral uprightness of girls depends on this procedure. But this is nonsense. Morality is about upbringing, not surgery.” More: Al-Ahram Weekly