Egypt's parliament bans female circumcision, marriage under 18

( dpa ) - The Egyptian parliament has passed new laws banning female circumcision and setting 18 as the minimum age for marriage for both genders, local media said on Sunday.

The new legislation, passed on Saturday, imposes a jail penalty of three months to two years or a fine of 190 to 940 dollars on any one practicing female circumcision, the official al-Ahram newspaper said.

Being a part of the child's rights bill, the law prohibits the circumcision unless in cases of "medical necessity."

The legislation will be immediately enforced.

Members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement, who are independents in parliament, were furious about the new legislation, with MPs charging that it "contradicts with the Islamic jurisprudence and is brought from the West."

Female circumcision is a widely-spread habit in villages of Upper Egypt, which can cause death, infection and psychological traumas. Several government campaigns have been launched against the practice, but it wasn't legally prohibited before the new legislation.

Meanwhile, parliament also approved a law banning marriage of both females and males under the age of 18.

Previously Egyptian girls were allowed to legally marry at the age of 16.

Pre-marital medical tests have become a requirement for legal marriage under the new ruling. Couples are now obliged to undergo medical tests to legally register their marriage.

Parliamentary members consider this new requirement a solution to lessen the rates of infants born with genetic deficits.

In other news, the assembly approved the right for unmarried mothers to register their children under their names, a breakthrough in Egyptian legislation that have been requested by many social and child rights experts for many years.

The move was strongly opposed by many parliamentary members who argued that the law would open the door for many females to commit adultery.

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