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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Egypt photos in one convenient blog post, and Female Genital Mutilation

From December 22 to January 7, Matt and I went to Egypt. Please insert all the adjectives you'd normally associate with fulfilling lifelong-dream nerd-vacations.

Pictures = a couple hundred thousand words:

Travelling to Egypt and shots of around Cairo, where we spent most of our time.

We stayed at the Museum View Hotel and made good friends with the awesome guys who run the place.

Pyramids etc in Memphis, Giza and Saqqara.


While exploring Saqqara, I found some rather creepy bones in a shallow grave in the sand dunes.


Luxor, including the Valley of the Kings and Karnak.


The White Desert, which I believe to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth.


Cairo is full of cats, and being a terrible catfag, I took a whole set of pictures of them.


Matt's pictures, taken with a better eye and a better camera.


Videos!


(If you know what the song is here, please tell me.)

Terrible Cairo traffic:



Simultaneic call to prayer:


Before I move onto a more serious subject, let me insist that I loved our time in Egypt. We spent three days at the Egyptian Museum (each "day" was really only a few hours - my brain kept overloading), and I finally put to rest the rage I described in this blog entry, written after visiting the King Tut exhibition at the Franklin Institute (here I am putting the rage to rest). I could have stayed in the country for weeks longer and still not seen everything I wanted to see. I honestly believe the world would be a better place if everyone had an Egyptian sense of humor.

However. On my first night in Cairo, while reading a guide book, I discovered a fact that reverberated inside my skull for the rest of the trip, and even now, when I talk about our time in Egypt, I try to find a way to worm it into conversation, because everyone I've spoken to has found this equally shocking.
Over 90% of women in Egypt have undergone female genital mutilation.
Over 90% of women in Egypt have undergone female genital mutilation.
Over 90% of women in Egypt have undergone female genital mutilation.
Over 90% of women in Egypt have undergone female genital mutilation.
Over 90% of women in Egypt have undergone female genital mutilation.

Let me put this another way. Around 97% of Egyptian women have their clitorises cut off at some point between birth and marriage.

Clitoris. Cut. Off.


In fact, according to the female genital mutilation wiki, FGM is more prevalent in Egypt than anywhere else in the world. We all assume that FGM is a problem further south in Africa, or only among very conservative/backward societies, but this isn't the case at all.

Why is this done? Apparently it stops women from being too sexual. Your wife will be less likely to stray if she gets less pleasure from sex. It's also considered a cosmetic improvement, and there's a widespread belief that men find uncircumcised genitalia revolting. There are also (of course, incorrect) beliefs that there are some kind of health benefits in the practice, and that the clitoris causes pain if left unchecked.

Maybe this makes me an awful western tourist with a disgusting lack of cultural relativism, but sometimes when we were walking around the city, I would suddenly focus on all the women around me and realize that the likelihood of any of them ever having an orgasm in their entire lives was close to zero. It made me sad and sick to my stomach.

Around 80% of women in Egypt approve of the practice. FGM is technically outlawed in Egypt, but it hasn't seemed to help. Here's the UNICEF page on Egyptian FGM.
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