By Suaad Abdulrahman and Arvid Vormann
In a remote village called Toutakhel, hidden amidst the endless hills of Kurdish northern Iraq, all the women had gathered. They said they were not aware of the dangers of female genital mutilation (FGM), which is still widely practiced throughout large parts of the region. Now they were willing to stop all violence and declare this in public, if only their children could attend secondary school in the next village, about 7 miles a stony, dusty pathway down to the riverside. “Without education”, they said, “we are nothing. We would rather die than leave our kids without education. We do not have much and we do not need much, but the children are our future.”
Every village is different. Toutachel people are very concerned with the future and well-being of their kids. There, like in many places, elderly men married young women, and some of the men had been married before and had several kids whom they all lost during Saddam’s genocidal poison gas attacks in the course of the so-called Anfal campaign of 1988. However, when they are talking about these horrifying experiences, it is as if it occurred last week and not decades ago. Now their new children have become very precious to them.