BEIRUT: A religious edict by the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union on female genital mutilation (FGM) sends a clear signal that the practice is not prescribed by Islam, Human Rights Watch said today. The edict, however, does not call for an outright ban on this harmful traditional practice.
The High Committee for Issuing Fatwas at the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union, the highest Muslim religious authority in Iraqi Kurdistan for religious pronouncements and rulings, issued its fatwa on July 6, 2010, on the continuing prevalence of the practice of FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan. The fatwa notes that the practice is not prescribed in Islam, but predates it. The fatwa does not absolutely prohibit “female circumcision.” It says parents may choose to “circumcise” their daughters but that it is better to avoid the practice because of the negative health consequences. FGM has been internationally recognized as a violation of children’s and women’s rights, including their rights to life, health, and bodily integrity.