A Report about the current efforts and activities of the Stop FGM Kurdistan campaign (for the Kurdish version click here)
The Unfruitful Efforts:
In 2005, our NGO suggested to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), that if it would “start combating and eliminating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the region, it would establish itself as a leader in this field and would enhance the respect of the government as a row model for the rest of the nations of the Middle East”. However, after 5 years of hard struggles and field work to combat FGM in Kurdistan, and despite the piles of data, statistics and documents about the practice that were presented to the Parliament of Kurdistan, we are unfortunately announcing that the practice still continues. Since February 2008, FGM has been covered with a vile of silence in the Halls of the Parliament, despite the fact that a project of a bill in this regard is ready and had been signed by 68 members of parliament.
In an even more disappointing step, the Ministry of Health (MoH) had in the beginning responded to our demands and offered to meet. But after three meetings with the Minister of Health and all the Director Generals in the Ministry which resulted in an action plan to combat FGM, the Minister of Health (Dr. Abdulrehman Othman) had broke all of his promises, boycotted our NGO, disregarded all the data we presented to him and characterized the latter as false and inaccurate including those statistics from the Department of Maternal Health of the MoH that were collected from 2007 to 2008 in Erbil city. According to the very Ministry’s estimations, out of all the women visited the department, 30929 were genitally mutilated and circumcised.
It is surprising that at the same time that the KRG is claiming to recruit resources and effort to combat gender based violence, it turns a blind eye on FGM and doesn’t regarded it as a violence against women. This is happening while the whole world recognizes FGM as one of the most dangerous forms of violence.
The Private Media as a Supporter of Women Issues:
In April 12-22, 2009 under the leadership of Hawlati Newspaper, some of the most influential private and independent media agencies in Kurdistan, started a petition signing campaign to combat FGM. Those media agencies included, Hawlati newspaper, Rozhanam newspaper, Levin Magazine, Awenakan Magazine, Nawa Radio, and Women Legal Assistance Organization. In cooperation with Wadi, those media agencies and organizations implemented a successful 10 days campaign that involved distributing 1000 buttons, 7000 calendars, 500 brochures, 17 sound clips and presented and aired many radio programs.
The Expansion of the International Support:
After the announcement of the “Stop FGM in Kurdistan” campaign in the spring of 2007, many international agencies supported this cause. In 2009 the support further broadened to include the Dutch Embassy in Iraq and the British Consulate in Erbil which provided financial and moral support for the campaign. In this regard, UNAMI is extremely interested in the cause of combating FGM in Kurdistan. In addition, Human Rights Watch will issue a report dedicated to FGM that was prepared in cooperation with Wadi teams.
Besides, many international and local media agencies had mentioned the campaign in their news coverage including a latest report by Al-Jazzera News Channel.
Doctors against FGM Group:
Under the leadership of Dr. Goran Abdulla Sabir and a number of concerned doctors in Sulemany city, a group had been established to combat FGM. The group started its activities with establishing a Blog on the internet to advance awareness about FGM. You can find more information about the group at www.stopfgmkurdistan.wordpress.com.
Data and Follow up of FGM in the First 8 months of 2009:
In the first 8 months of 2009, our teams visited 125 villages, districts and sub-districts in each of the cities and towns of Slemany, Chamchamal, Sharazor, Rania, Qaladeza, Garmian. Out of a total of 2415 women in the age group of 30-50 years old who participated in the meetings arranged by our teams, 2084 were circumcised. This amounts for a percentage of 86%. The following is a break down of the above ratio;
- In 23 villages of the cities Slemany, Chamchamal, Sharazor, out of 289 women, 252 were circumcised, at a ratio of 87%.
- In 64 villages of Rania and Qaladeza, out of 1297 women, 1292 were circumcised, at a ratio of 97%.
- In 28 villages of Garmian area, out of 829 women, 540 were circumcises, at a ratio of 65%.
All these women are victims of FGM and are in need for awareness and health assistance.
A Questionnaire about FGM in 125 Villages and Town of Kurdistan
During the visits of our teams to the areas surrounding Slemany, Chamchamal, Sharazor, Rania, Qaladeza, and Garmian, we administered a questionnaire survey among the participating women to explore the status of FGM and its causes at the current time. 1113 women participated in responding to the 2 pages survey which asked them about their socioeconomic status and FGM. We are presenting here only those results that are directly related to the practice of FGM especially the number of their daughters and the prevalence of genital mutilation among them;
- In response to the question of “Are you circumcised?”, out of the 1113 women, 995 responded by yes amounting for a ratio of 89%.
The distribution according to the region is shown in the following table:
|Region||No. of Surveys Administered||Yes (Circumcised)||No (Not Circumcised)|
2-1 The 1113 women surveyed had a total of 2325 daughters out of which 1373 were circumcised. The total ratio was 59% according to the following table:
|Region||No. of Daughters||Yes (Circumcised)||No (Not Circumcised)|
|2,325||1,373 59%||952 41%|
2-3 The Ages of the Girls According to Region:
|1 – 5 years||96||125||100||109||430|
|5 – 10 years||111||107||101||145||364|
|10 – 15 years||86||89||100||92||367|
|15 – 20 years||95||105||112||63||375|
|20 – 30 years||72||99||229||86||386|
3. With Regard to a question, whether those women got any information about FGM and from whom, the responses were as follows;
- 576 women from TV channels, and WADI awareness teams.
- 195 women from TV channels only.
- 171 women from WADI teams only.
- 54 women from Radio Stations and WADI teams.
- 26 women form Radio Stations only.
- 7 Women from newspapers.
- 84 women didn’t get any information about FGM.
- Out of the 1113 women surveyed, their response to whether they would circumcise their daughters in the future, the results were as follows:
681 were convinced and they don’t believe in it
394 circumcision is an Islam order and I would continue doing it for my daughters
22 circumcision is a tradition and I would continue
11 circumcision is both a tradition and an order of Islam and would do it
5 not decided
- The new session of the Parliament should pass the banning of FGM bill. The draft of a bill to ban FGM was signed by 68 members of parliament in February 2008. It is the responsibility of the Committee of defending Women’s Human Rights in the Parliament to follow up with this matter.
- We recommend having the vetted new Minister of Health to sit for hearing in the Parliament to question him/her about the future plans with regard of health in general and FGM in particular.
- The new Cabinet of the KRG should adopt a plan to combat FGM. The further neglect of this harmful practice is bringing the seriousness of KRG efforts to face violence against women under serious questioning especially from the outside world.
- The Ministry for Religious Affairs should implement a follow up to this harmful practice because it is regarded as a prophetic Sunnah.
- The media agencies, in particular TV and Radios, are playing a positive role in enhancing the awareness of women in Kurdistan. The newspapers and magazines proved to be an effective advocacy tool.
- Non-Governmental-Organizations, particularly those related to women’s rights didn’t play a significant role in combating this practice. We recommend that these organizations adopt FGM as the worst form of violence against women and make it a priority in their agenda.
- We recommend increasing the efforts for helping and assisting the victims of FGM through awareness campaigns with regard to issues of health, sex, mental health and social wellbeing.
Prepared by: FGM awareness teams in Rania, Qaladeza, Garmian, Slemany. Under the Supervision of WOLA “Women Legal Assistance Organization”
Edited by; Falah Muradkhan Shakrm/ Coordinator General/ WADI/ Iraq
Translated by : Dr. Goran Abdullah
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