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Sexual Morality at the Egyptian Bar: Female Circumcision, Sex Change Operations, and Motives For Suing

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This essay focuses on the ways in which social actors produce morality and moral boundaries within the framework of Egyptian tribunals. I first examine how public and sexual morality emerge as topics and are treated in the legal and judicial arena. After summarizing three Egyptian cases dealing with sex-change operations and female circumcision, I attempt to deduce some of the motivations—egoistic, ethical, and political—that impel actors to use the judiciary. I argue that legal rules interact with moral principles within the judge's work and that many standards, including that of Islamic normativity, emerge in the course of the adjudicative process. It is up to professional jurists to interpret the content of these moral principles, and, as a result, legal actors have the final word with regard to their definition and implementation.


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