London, September 22 : Girls are being circumcised in Egypt despite a ban on female genital mutilation, imposed about six years ago.
A new study conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio has revealed that non-medical personnel carry out the procedure in certain cases.
Research leader Mohamed Bedaiwy has revealed that interviews with 3730 Egyptian girls, aged 10 to 14, showed that 85 per cent of them had been subjected to FGM since it was outlawed.
The study also revealed that almost two-thirds of the girls interviewed had been circumcised by non-medical personnel, the researcher says.
He believes that FGM is unlikely to stop as long as religious leaders condone it and parents believe their daughters will otherwise be disadvantaged.
"Female genital cutting is a deep-rooted practice in Egyptian culture, and it will take more than a law to change it," New Scientist magazine quoted Bedaiwy as saying.
The researchers also interviewed the girls' parents, who said that they disobeyed the law to comply with religious and traditional beliefs, and curb the sexual drive of their daughters.
While reports suggest that some doctors have been punished with fines, imprisonment, and suspension of their right to practise, there is not record of who and how many.
The researchers are of the view that counselling parents and religious leaders is the only way to eradicate FGM in Egypt.
Paul Van Look of the World Health Organization says that a significant number of families within a community will have to "make a collective, coordinated choice to abandon the practice so that no single girl or family is disadvantaged by the decision".
According to figures from the WHO, three million girls undergo FGM in Africa in a year.