For the first time in Iraqi Kurdistan women are protected by a new law against some of the traditions most harmful towards them. Yesterday the regional parliament ratified a bill banning female genital mutilation and domestic violence.
This is a landmark law in a region that is more steeped in such practices than surrounding countries. Female circumcision, where the clitoris and hood, and sometimes the labia, are cut away, is particularly commonly in rural areas. A German-Iraqi study conducted in 2007/08 showed more than 77 percent of female interviewees aged 14 and over in the Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah had undergone the procedure.
The new law lays out the penalty for encouraging female genital mutilation as 3 to 6 years imprisonment or a IQD 1 million ($860) fine. Those who carry out the operation will be sentenced to 3 to 5 years or a fine equal to IQD 5 million ($4300). If they are medical practitioners they will be banned from working for three years.