Newsletter : 5fax0907.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Sept. 7, 1995, V3, #164
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Israel's Population Rises to 5.5 Million
Israel's population rose by 1.1 percent during the first half
of 1995, reaching 5.5 million people. According to data supplied by
the General Bureau of Statistics, 40 percent of the growth was due
to immigration and the remainder of the increase was produced by
normal population growth. 133,000 Israeli citizens reside in the
Female Circumcision: Medical Experts Describe it as Barbaric
By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)
A year ago, the Population Conference in Cairo was shaken by the
broadcast of a graphic report about female genital mutilation.
Egyptian authorities reacted angrily. So did an unbelieving
Egyptian society. They refused to deal with the problem itself and
instead attacked the messenger. But efforts continue to try to stop
the practice of so-called female circumcision -- a practice medical
experts describe as barbaric.
When CNN broadcast a report on the circumcision of a 10-year-old
Egyptian girl a year ago, it sent shock waves through Egyptian
society. It showed a barber performing the brutal operation at a
The authorities temporarily jailed the barber who performed the
circumcision and the father of the girl, but also they threatened
to prosecute the TV producer in charge of the project.
The head of the Egyptian network of non-government organizations,
Aziza Hussein, says her teams spent a lot of time dealing with
all the backlash. But, she says the long-standing campaign
against female genital mutilation has suffered most from a change
of attitude by both the government and its Islamic advisors.
Since the late 1950s, Egypt forbid government-approved midwives
and health clinics from performing the surgery to cut or remove
the female genitalia.
After the TV report last September, the health minister decided
it would be better to allow circumcisions in clinics to protect
the child from the unclean methods of barbers and midwives. So
he advised hospitals to set aside certain days when families
could bring in their daughters.
Sayeed Thabet teaches gynecology at Cairo University and is an
outspoken advocate of female circumcision.
His arguments range from using it to control sexual urges in
adolescent girls to curbing the spread of disease. He even
suggests that circumcision will stop sexual desires sparked by
the static electricity of synthetic underwear.
"What is the solution for this problem? The solution for this
problem is to wear loose, not tight, loose pants and underwear,
made of cotton, not synthetic material, or otherwise circumcise
These arguments are rejected by most health experts who also point
out that Islam does not sanction female circumcision. Hussein
says many Muslim and Christian clerics work with her groups to
educate rural families about the health risks.
But now women activists are upset over a religious edict issued by
an Islamic scholar who says those who oppose the practice
could be executed. The Egyptian human rights organization is
suing the Islamic scholar on the grounds his pronouncement has
endangered the lives of thousands who are working to end the
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 85 million
girls between the ages of three and 10 have suffered the pain
and indignity of a practice health officials call barbaric. It
is performed in more than two dozen African countries, in some
parts of the Arabian Peninsula and in Egypt. Its origins are
believed to be rooted in African and Pharonic customs.
In Egypt, Hussein says seven out of 10 girls still fall victim to
the practice. And they are not all uneducated or poor. "In some
quarters where people are educated to a higher degree, it could be
reduced to 30 percent. But even if these are the educated people,
still 30 percent are still carrying on."
The Women's Conference in Beijing is expected to review the
situation on female genital mutilation and the latest strategies
for trying to eliminating the practice.
IDF Exempts New Father and Baby from Reserve Duty
When reserve Captain Ariel Cohen showed up for his annual 30 day
reserve army duty together with his four month old baby, Avshalom,
the IDF sent him home. Cohen had taken a years leave of absence
from his job to be at home with his new born son allowing his wife
to return to her work as a lawyer.
He received his call up notice to the reserves every man released
from mandatory active duty does yearly until age 50. Cohen tried
to explain his special circumstances to the Army, but no one quite
grasped it and refused to grant him an exemption for this year.
Therefore, Cohen should up with his new born son. The IDF got the
picture and gave him the exemption.
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