The Campaign: Stop FGM in Iraqi-Kurdistan
In the few years since it has been launched, the campaign Stop FGM in Kurdistan has created the conditions for an effective struggle against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kurdish northern Iraq.
Today, people discuss FGM openly in the newspapers, in radio and TV shows and on the streets. It has not always been this way. Through awareness and advocacy initiatives, the campaign Stop FGM in Kurdistan succeeded in breaking a taboo, making FGM a widely discussed issue. Information is now available to everyone in northern Iraq about the consequences of FGM: pain and suffering, physical and psychological harms, life-long anxiety and loss of ability to feel sexual sensations. FGM is now a recognized problem among the Kurdish public and the local authorities.
A broad network
Stop FGM in Kurdistan is a network of local and international organizations, human rights activists, artists and journalists. They are all committed to making FGM history – better today than tomorrow.
For this reason, the network organizes public and prevention work, engages in political lobbying and works on the ground. For instance, the aid association WADI is running several mobile teams, providing assistance to women across the region.
On an international level, the existence of FGM in Iraq has been ignored for many years. Female genital mutilation has been commonly described as an ‘African disease’. Thanks to Stop FGM in Kurdistan, this approach is now changing.
In 2009, the UNAMI (United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq) reported about FGM in Kurdistan for the first time. UNICEF Arbil followed. Shortly before, WADI had published the first findings from a comprehensive study it was about to conduct, indicating that FGM is prevalent in almost all parts of Iraqi Kurdistan. The study, published in 2010, showed that FGM is as widespread in urban areas as it is in the countryside. Human Rights Watch subsequently published a report titled “They took me and told me nothing”, which confirmed the results found by WADI.
Today, the problem of FGM in Kurdistan is internationally recognized beyond dispute. All future reports on the worldwide problem FGM will have to address FGM in Kurdistan. FGM prevalence maps are currently revised. All those who today still claim FGM to be an African problem can learn the truth now. For this achievement the campaign definitely deserves credit.
In 2011 the KRG parliament adopted a comprehensive law against FGM and many other forms of violence against women and children. However, still there is a huge gap between aspirations and reality. The campaign is now focusing on the implementation of this great law which is unique in the whole region. In cooperation with the government, WADI is conducting awareness seminars for traditional midwives (professional cutters), offering seminars for leading police officers, teachers and nursery school staff, in addition to their usual awareness activities in the villages. The campaign is counseling the government and supporting all their steps in the right direction.
Your donation will make a difference
To hold to the successes achieved by this campaign so far, and to advance further, we need your support: Any donation will make a difference.Open discussions are very important, but do not necessarily bring people to quit their “tradition”, especially in the rural areas. More awareness and education is needed, while the government, too, needs to take more action. The campaign Stop FGM in Kurdistan supports the public movement lobbying the government to act.