Archive for the ‘FGM in Iraq’ Category
Listen to the BBC Radio feature: Kurdistan’s success in stemming Female Genital Mutilation
Awezan Nuri grew up in Kirkuk, a city outside the KRG, and divided mainly among Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmens. There, the Pana Centre estimates that 38% of the local women have suffered FGM, with the number rising to 65% among Kurds in the region.
The Kirkuk Provincial Council, denying the local frequency of FGM, has rejected these figures. In March 2013 the local English-language newspaper, Kirkuk Now, published a shocking interview with a well-known local “practitioner” of FGM, Pura Gullstan, now in her mid-60s. Gullstan stated, “I perform female genital mutilation on women daily, in all the age groups; I performed FGM on a 25-year-old woman last week.”
Kirkuk Now pointed out that the frequency with which Gullstan claimed to implement FGM suggests that the rate with which the savage custom is forced on young woman may be higher than that charged by the Pana Centre. “I am the saviour of the honour of women and girls,” Gullstan declared. “Some of the women and girls hate me as I perform FGM on them, but as their pain fades away, or they get older, they begin to praise me.”
Iraqi Kurdistan also resembles Egypt in that FGM is not limited to Muslim women. According to Kirkuk Now, “other ethnicities as well as religious groups prefer female genital mutilation.”
The Pana Centre has appealed to the Iraqi central government in Baghdad for a national regulation against FGM.
We just got an excited phone-call from Sarhad Ajeb. He is the anjuman (major) of Tutakhal, one of the free FGM villages WADI helped to set up in Iraqi Kurdistan and maybe even the most famous one, since Reuters and Al Jazeera as well as many local TV station reported from here.
Finally Tutakhal as well as the neighboring villages are connected to the general electricity supply. Ajeb is convinced this happened solely because they joined the Free FGM campaign in 2011 and got so much attention that finally the government reacted.
Since all villages in the region profit from being connected to electricity supply, Ajeb just promised, all of the villagers in Tutakhal will now step up efforts to convince their neighbors to stop FGM too.
Sarhad Ajeb, lobbying against Female Genital Mutilation on a February 6th event in Suleymaniah
A global campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation [FGM], often misnamed “female circumcision,” continues. While foreign NGOs have made Iraqi Kurdistan a center of the effort to do away with this practice, many observers have argued that it is not a “Kurdish” problem.
FGM is also not just a “Muslim” phenomenon. However widespread it may be among Iraqi Sunni Kurds, its acceptance in Islam is limited. According to the German relief organization WADI [The Association for Crisis Assistance and Development Co-operation], in the four provinces of Iraqi Kurdistan, only the farthest north, Dohuk, which borders on Turkey, shows little evidence of FGM at any age. Among the remaining three “governorates,” in the province of Erbil, named for the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), 63% of women have undergone the atrocious custom; in Suleymaniya, 78%; and in Garmyan/New Kirkuk, the southernmost, 81%.
By Arvid Vormann
According to a large survey conducted in 2009, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is prevalent in all provinces of Kurdish Northern Iraq, except in the far northern Duhok region. More than 72% are affected, in villages and cities alike, among illiterates and, to a lesser extent, among academics. FGM is almost everywhere.
The area, heavily struck by Saddam’s genocidal poison gas attacks in the late 80s, by civil war in the 90s, and threatened by Saddam’s army and Islamic groups until 2003, is also marked by very high rates of honor killings, domestic violence, forced marriages and other gender-related crimes. Mobile health teams of the German-Iraqi relief organization Wadi first reported the existence of FGM in 2004. After the toppling of Saddam Hussein, time seemed to be ripe. The first few women started to talk about all the pain and agony caused by the physical and psychological consequences of the mutilations forced on them as little girls. Since then, democracy and freedom of the press, despite all their immense shortcomings in this autonomous region, have laid ground for a successful public campaign against FGM. “Stop FGM in Kurdistan” was a grass root initiative – something hitherto unheard of, as usually everything is controlled from above. The feedback was overwhelming. Human Rights Watch further promoted the cause.Nowadays
Parvin Zabihi, a member of a women’s rights group based in Iran’s Kurdistan called the Committee Against Sexual Violence, has researched female circumcision in the Kurdish-populated areas in Iran.
“One of my friends carried out some research in a classroom at a school in the Piranshahr area. Out of the 40 students, 38 were local — and out of those 38, 36 had been circumcised. We came across many cases [of FGM] wherever we went to investigate,” Zabihi says.
[…] It is not clear why the practice is widespread among Iranian and Iraqi Kurds. In Iran, FGM cases are also reported in southern regions including in Khuzestan.
Today the Governor of Kirkuk, Dr. Najmiddin Karim, met with representatives of Pana to discuss the consequences of the research they have conducted together with Wadi in Kirkuk, finding that almost 40% of women in the governorate are victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Dr. Karim promised to support any activities combatting this practice and promised to participate in a scheduled press conference in June, when Pana and Wadi will present the final version of their research.
Although FGM is banned by law in the federal region of Iraqi-Kurdistan, it’s still legal in other parts if Iraq. Dr. Karim underlined also the need of a legal ban of this practice throughout the whole country.
See also: محافظ كركوك يدعو الى حظر قانوني لختان الاناث
Human Rights Watch recently published a book about the global fight for Women’s Rights: The Unfinished Revolution.
One chapter deals with Female Genital Mutilation and the attempts to ban this practice. Nadya Khalifa, who conducted a research about FGM in Kurdistan, writes about the StopFGMKurdistan campaign and the reactions of the authorities, which she considers a positive example for other countries too:
The Kurdistan parliament’s adoption in June 2011 of a family violence bill, including two provisions on FGM, constituted another major milestone on the road to ending FGM. (…) For me , this was a deeply satisfying moment, as I recalled the harrowing testimonies of women and girls I interviewed in the course of my research.
What this teaches us is that FGM eradication efforts require a multifaced approach – one that works with numerous key actors at the same time, including victims, their families, religious leaders, health care professionals, teachers and community leaders. Debate and discussions are essential to encourage a community affirmation to stop the mutilation of girls. In every country where FGM exists, government authorities can follow the example of Iraqi Kurdistan and make a public commitment by sending out a clear message that this harmful practice has no place in their society.
A member of the human rights committee in the Iraqi Council of Representatives today called on its Kurdish counterpart to coordinate together to fight against female circumcision, adding that awareness and education are the most important weapons to combat the practice.
MP Ashwaq al-Jaff of the Iraqi committee said: “Educating against this phenomenon is the responsibility of the human rights committee in Baghdad and Erbil in coordination with civil society organizations, cultural centers and media, as well as the important role of the family.
Jaff explained that his committee reviewed a report published yesterday by AKnews about female circumcision. (…)
AKnews published yesterday a report based on a study prepared by Sulaimaniyah-based German NGO Wadi e.V. and PANA, a local women’s rights organization in Kirkuk. Both organizations worked together to interview 1,212 women and girls, aged above 14 years, living in Kirkuk.
The study found that 38.2 percent of the sample had undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) in a region previously assumed to be free of the ancient custom.