Archive for the ‘FGM’ Category
In several Iraqi Kurdish regions female genital mutilation (FGM) has declined significantly within a decade.
During the last six months, the Iraqi-German NGO Wadi has collected data on the prevalence of female genital mutilation in the areas of Suleimaniyah, Halabja, Raniya, Goptata and Garmyan. Having discovered in 2004 that FGM was practiced widely, Wadi’s mobile teams developed a village-by-village approach in their campaign to raise awareness among women about the medical and psychological consequences of the practice.
The new data is based on interviews with 5,000 women and girls and indicates that this approach has led to a steep decrease in the practice. While 66 – 99% of women aged 25 and older were found to be mutilated, the percentage in the pertinent age group 6 – 10 was close to zero in Halabja and Garmyan. In both areas FGM was previously practiced widely and where the awareness campaign began first. In Suleimaniyah the rate of mutilation among 6-10 years old girls is at 11%, in Goptapa 21% and in Raniya – Wadi’s most recent operation area where the rate used to be close to 100% – has now dropped to 48%. The usual age for the cuttings is between 4 and 8 years in this region.
The first clinic in Europe specialized in providing treatment to women subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) opened doors in the German capital Berlin on Wednesday.
Local media reported that the patron of the project for the Desert Flower Center is Waris Dirie, the Somalia-born former supermodel and one-time Bond girl who has become one of the world’s most prominent campaigners against FGM.
Female genital mutilation is widely considered as a human rights violation of worldwide concern. It has been defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”
The British MP Gary Kent has traveled again to Iraqi-Kurdistan and recently wrote an article about progress made there. He also spoke with Pachschan Zangana, today member of the High Council of Women Affairs, some years ago parliamentarian of the Kurdish Communist party who helped to adress the issue of Female Genitale Mutliation in Iraqi-Kurdistan.
She mentions a recent study done in a region WADI is working since 2005 to decrease FGM, although the numbers a bit more sobering:
On women’s rights, Kurdistan is still part of the Middle East which is a man’s world. I remember the shock among Kurdish leaders when it became clear that FGM was more widespread than previously thought although it is difficult to specify its scale. (…) The KRG leadership has criminalised FGM and been working with Imams to undermine it culturally. Pakshan cites one area where its incidence has been reduced from 86 to 5%. She praises improved police training on domestic violence.
But these numbers are showing, if serious attempts are done, one can end this terrible practice within a decade.
In certain African regions FGM is supported also by Christian clerics. Here an example from Ghana. Bishop Akwasi Sarpong, taking a culture-relativistic stand, claimed FGM “although rejected by other societies, serves a purpose in certain African societies.” We have been waiting for a clear message from the vatican regarding this issue since many years already.
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.
Egypt criminalized all forms of FGM in 2008 and rights monitors say the number of girls undergoing the operation has dropped by about one third.
But Nehad Abud Komsan, director of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, said the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood and more conservative Salafist politicians threaten those gains.
“They come to say ‘we may have a law to make it [legal] in a certain condition, or to say it is good for protection. They are destroying years of efforts to protect girls and women in Egypt and, unfortunately, by using religion,” said Komsan.
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%.
Tunesia’s ruling Ennahda party has its FGM scandal. MP Habib Ellouze allegedly said: “In the (African) regions where it is hot, people are forced to circumcise girls … because in these regions clitorises are too big which affects the spouses,” and “There are more circumcisions but it is not true that circumcision removes the pleasure for women. It is the West that has exaggerated the issue. Circumcision is an aesthetic surgery for women.”
Last year Egyptian preacher Wagdy Ghoneim caused an outcry when he recommended FGM during his Tunesia trip. Ennahda distanced itself from the Islamist who meanwhile also called on Muslims to kill the opponents of Mursi.
In a recent fatwa a certain Sheikh Al-Hajji Al-Kurdi from the Saudi Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs endorsed female genital mutilation in its “sunna” form which stipulates the cutting of the clitoris prepuce. He distinguished this allowed “Islamic circumcision” from forbidden “Pharaonic circumcisions”.
On the ground, however, it is common opinion that “sunna circumcision” includes the cutting of the clitoris.
A fatwa like this one raises serious questions about the prevalence of FGM in Saudi Arabia.