Encountering True Purity
Warning: The following contains some graphic information about the treatment of women in Egypt. In many of the countries on our World Watch List, women are consistently treated as second-class citizens. There are many cultural traditions and practices that keep them in this role. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is one such practice. It is common for the women that have received FGM to view pregnancy as a death sentence, and to constantly fear the deadly effects of a possible infection. It is estimated that between 100 and 140 million girls and women have received FGM worldwide. This is not a minor issue. Many of the families still practicing FGM are uneducated, and are unaware of the horrors that it brings. On March 10th, an 11-year-old Egyptian girl named Soheir, died from complications from FGM. Soheir was not the first, nor will she be the last, to die an unnecessary and painful death in Egypt this year. In Egypt, millions of girls like Soheir continue to be subjected to the cruel practice of FGM, a crude type of surgery which alters and disfigures female genital organs. FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, but it continues to be practiced in Egypt- in the belief that it would really keep girls sexually pure before marriage. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors. Although FGM was illegal before the 2011 revolution, the cultural practice continued in secret, and was strongly promoted by the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood during their one-year rule of Egypt, which began in 2012. Local Egyptian churches are mobilizing Women’s and Girls’ Ministries, seeking to fight this culturally imposed human rights abuse. Through awareness seminars, Bible studies and prayer groups, attending women learn to see and value themselves and their bodies through God’s eyes. The simple provision of this information can have remarkable effects. Take for example Nagat*, a wise elderly woman with a strong calling in her heart to fight for women’s rights. She attended several women’s meetings in her village church where she learned about FGM damage, and embraced the truth of the Holy Spirit as the only changing power in creating pure hearts and sanctified lives and bodies. Nagat remembered her own experience: the pain, the infected wound, and the effects that have had a lasting impact on her marriage. She wants to save as many girls as she can from this barbaric procedure. Nagat gives an account of her story: “I had this burning message, and I started to talk to the girls’ mothers every day in the farms, in the market, in the church and by the river, assuring them that purity comes from the heart that knows Jesus as Savior.” She encouraged them not to be under the yoke of the world, and that by befriending their daughters and loving them, they could have more effect than by physically disfiguring them. Naga’s passion and inspiration have led both Christian and Muslim women to listen to her. She stood firm against villagers who accused her of wanting to corrupt the girls and undermine traditions. Despite the threats and dangers, Nagat, by the grace of God, managed to completely remove FMG from her village. Dozens of villages in Upper Egypt now have much lower levels of FGM because of brave women like Nagat. However, a great deal of work remains to be done. Nagat and women like her need renewed courage, and the support of regular prayer and encouragement. Prayer Points:
- Please pray for wisdom for the leaders to be able to give the right counseling, and for grace so that women and girls trust and open up to them.
- Please pray that the hundreds of still-unreached villages will become informed and cease all practices of FGM.
*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes