New research from the Population Council has found that young girls in Egypt today are at least ten percent less likely to endure female circumcision than were their mothers. The decline seems to have begun after the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) took place in Cairo in 1994, intensifying the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) campaign.
In Egypt, circumcision typically takes place before or just as a girl reaches puberty. The procedure usually involves the removal of all or part of the clitoris and parts of the labia minora. The practice persists due to religious and cultural beliefs that FGM is necessary to moderate female sexuality and make girls more feminine and marriageable.
The survey of more than 9,000 children and their parents, conducted in 1997, found that young girls were less likely to be mutilated than were older, adolescent girls. FGM remained high among girls between the ages of ten and nineteen years old (about 84 percent). When three groups of girls were compared in the survey, a link between the decline in FGM and the ICPD conference can be seen. Among the youngest group of girls, born between 1985 to 1987, a significant decrease can be measured.