Campaign to End FGM in Iraqi-Kurdistan Sees Success


By: Suaad Abdulrahman Sharef, WADI women project coordinator

Wadi recently did a survey on the rate of FGM in Garmyan region, where the whole campaign against this practice once started in 2004. Since then these teams are visiting dozens of villages, meet the people, show educational films and lobby against FGM. This campaign obviously pays out and is proving that such a long term approach is successful: The latest data collected indicates that only 23 of 698 girls aged 1-14 years have been circumcised in 2011.

Seven years ago a preliminary survey conducted by a WADI team in 40 villages of the Garmyan region shocked everyone when it uncovered that 903 out of 1534 women and girls were circumcised. The spreading of this news in the local and international media provoked suspicion towards our teams, and pressure was put on them to hinder their work.

Thanks to the support of those who trusted our efforts, we were able to continue our work with the financial and moral aid from charities, the free press and international organizations. Strong and important support came from the youth groups that activley engaged with their communities to oppose FGM and were willing to take up great challenges in order to eliminate this harmful practice.

On the 21st of June, 2011 the Kurdish Parliament prohibited FGM by law, with punishment of imprisonment and financial fines on perpetrators of the practice. This law is no spontaneous event, but the result of extensive campaigns, petitions and pressure from local and international groups, especially after the publication of the 2010 Human Rights Watch report and many other documents on the reality and danger of FGM in Kurdistan by WADI and other organizations, as well as official governmental agencies in the region.

The law is a success, yet it is important to notice the means for its implimitations are not yet clear.  The Family Violence Bill through which FGM is prohibited has not yet been advertised on the official (governmental) sites and the Union of Islamic Scholars as well as conservative bodies have opposed the implementation of the law and demand its abolishment.

This means the struggle to combat FGM and other forms of violence in this society will continue. Good news such as the statistic mentioned in the opening of this article delights us and will encourage us to carry on our campaign until we end FGM in Kurdistan.

Translated by: Hemen Sabir

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