BASNEWS | 04.06.2017
Female Circumcisions or Female Genital Mutilation in Kurdistan
Circumcision is defined as cutting of female external genitalia which is carried out by traditional...
WEEKLY STANDARD | 17.06.2015
Confronting FGM in Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan
Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) exists in the Islamic Republic of Iran even...
stopfgmmideast | 20.05.2015
Campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan: Paying a visit to a Mullah who promoted FGM
The shock was great when the Iraqi Kurdish Xelk Media Network reported about a Kurdish Mullah...
THE TELEGRAPH | 04.03.2015
"If they mutilate my granddaughter? I’ll kill them’. Meet Iraqi village ending FGM
Amirah vividly recalls the day she was taken into a bathroom by the village midwife and forced to...
biomedcentral | 06.02.2015
The diversity of Kurdish women’s perspectives of female genital mutilation
The 6th February is marked by the United Nations sponsored awareness day, International...
WADI | 10.02.2015
International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM in the Kurdistan Parliament
Wadi, UNICEF and the High Council of Women Affairs launched an event about how...
stopfgmmideast | 05.02.2015
Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM: We need more campaigns in Asia
On the fifth official International Day of Zero Tolerance to female genital mutilation (FGM)...
WADI | 02.02.2015
Four new TV-spots Wadi has produced supported by UNICEF
as part of the ongoing campaign to eliminate FGM in Iraqi-Kurdistan. These spots will be aired by different TV stations...
Female Genital Mutilation a Growing Problem in Iran
The hideous practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is neither an exclusively Muslim nor a...
ORCHIDPROJECT | 17.12.2014
KMEWO Event on FGC
On November 13th 2014, the Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women Organisation (KMEWO)...
WADI | 09.12.2014
Radio feature on WADI’s efforts to improve the situation of Free FGM Villages in Iraqi-Kurdistan
“Fichar” program at Radio Deng, an independent Radio station in Kalar, did a feature on WADI as...
WADI | 03.12.2014
Kurdish FGM-Free Village invited to Talkshow
Kurdistan's first FGM-free village as talk show guests on 'Binewshe" (KurdSat TV) to... | 18.10.2014
A Kurdish girl's story of Female genital mutilation FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan
As we all know from news reports from the region, the people of Iraqi Kurdistan have been...
TRUST.ORG | 09.09.2014
Iraqi Kurdistan could end FGM in a generation - expert
Female genital mutilation could be eradicated in Iraqi Kurdistan within a generation, a U.N...
The Guardian | 08.09.2014
Majority in Iraqi Kurdistan oppose female genital mutilation
Survey reveals widespread knowledge of FGM's dangers, with 68% of people saying it...
stop fgm mideast | 29.07.2014
FGM in Iraq: The hoax of a hoax?
Last week a statement by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was circulating in Arab...
WADI BLOG | 22.07.2014
Islamic caliphate labels female genital mutilation obligatory
Recently the Islamic state issued a fatwa which called female genital mutilation a religious...
WADI | 14.07.2014
One in four women in Central and Southern Iraq is affected by Female Genital Mutilation, new study suggests
A first independent study on female genital mutilation in central/southern Iraq finds that...
HIVOS | 13.06.2014
Kurdish villages declare themselves FGM-free
For ten years, Hivos partner WADI has been campaigning against female genital...
wadi | 05.06.2014
Cooperation agreement between UNICEF and WADI to combat FGM in Northern Iraq
UNICEF and WADI just signed a contract to boost the ongoing...
Gatestone Inst. | 07.05.2014
Solidarity Against Female Genital Mutilation
"No victim files charges against her own parents." — Rayeyeh Mozafarian, University of Shiraz...
stopfgmmideast | 30.04.2014
Second Middle East Conference on FGM to tackle myths
The Second Middle East & Asia Conference on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by WADI and...
opendemocracy | 14.02.2014
Embracing shame: turning honour on its head
The challenge that embracing shame poses to the longstanding perversion of honour, is the... | 10.02.2014
Continues battle against Female Genital Mutilation FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan
For many years, people have believed that practicing of female genital mutilation (FGM) is...
wadi | 05.02.2014
Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation; Action in Asia is needed
On the fourth official International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female genital mutilation (FGM), the...
RUDAW.NET | 27.01.2014
A Slow Fight for Kurdistan’s Women
“It is like digging a well with a fingernail. Our work is very slow. But we did make progress.”
DEUTSCHE WELLE | 09.12.2013
Iraqi Kurdistan fights female circumcision
Female circumcision is slowly declining in Iraqi Kurdistan. Years of campaigning and a law...
RUDAW.NET | 29.11.2013
Kurdistan Premier: Stronger Policies Needed to Combat Gender Violence
Two years ago the KRG passed a law banning violence against women including genital...
BBC | 07.11.2013
BBC-Documentary: Dropping the Knife; The Fight against FGM
A BBC-Documentary: Dropping the knife; the fight against FGM...
CPT | 04.11.2013
IRAQI KURDISTAN: WADI shifts attitudes toward Female Genital Mutilation
On 30 October 2013, CPT’s partner organization, WADI Iraq office, organized a press...
AL-MONITOR | 02.11.2013
Female Circumcision Continues in Iraqi Kurdistan
Despite the efforts of Kurdish civil society organizations and the media to shed light on the...
HIVOS | 27.10.2013
WADI’s ground-breaking campaign against FGM: interview
Falah Moradhkin is WADI’s project coordinator in Iraq. He was one of the few who survived a...
BBC RADIO | 25.10.2013
Kurdistan's success in stemming Female Genital Mutilation
Kurdistan is one of Iraq's rare success stories, the region has enjoyed an oil boom and...
GULFNEWS.COM | 24.10.2013
How Kurdistan ended female genital mutilation
Two years ago, FGM was banned as part of a wide-ranging law to improve women’s rights...
the guardian | 24.10.2013
FGM: the film that changed the law in Kurdistan
Two filmmakers spent almost a decade reporting the greatest taboo subject in Kurdish society...
BIOMED CENTRAL | 08.09.2013
Female genital mutilation among Iraqi Kurdish women: a cross-sectional study from Erbil city
Iraqi Kurdistan region is one of the areas where female genital...
wadi | 14.08.2013
Rate of FGM decreases in some regions of Iraqi Kurdistan
The British MP Gary Kent has traveled again to Iraqi-Kurdistan and recently wrote an article...
The Independent | 31.05.2013
Fighting against Female Genital Mutilation in Iraq
It is a misguided belief that Islam requires young women be circumcised...
CIP | 22.03.2013
The Global Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation Continues
A global campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation [FGM], often misnamed "female...
Kurdistantribune | 04.03.2013
Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in the Kurdistan Region
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined by the Word Health Organization (WHO) as...
UN Special | 06.02.2013
The long road to the first FGM-free villages in Iraq
According to a large survey conducted in 2009, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is...





GULFNEWS.COm | 24.10.2013. original text

How Kurdistan ended female genital mutilation

Two years ago, FGM was banned as part of a wide-ranging law to improve women’s rights

By Shaimaa Khalil to Gulf News

Toutkhal: Kurdistan is one of Iraq’s rare success stories; autonomous from Baghdad since 1991, the region has recently enjoyed an oil boom that’s fuelled foreign investment unknown elsewhere in the country.

And recently Iraqi Kurdistan has been looking closely at its human rights record. Two years ago Female Genital Mutilation was banned, as part of a wide-ranging law to improve women’s rights, and since then the rate of FGM has fallen dramatically.

But how have they achieved this? Kurdistan is very much the exception.

Many other countries in the Middle East and Africa still suffer from high rates of FGM. According to Unicef the countries where FGM is most prevalent is Somalia and Guinea, while Egypt is in the top five.

However according to Unicef the practice is ‘practically non-existent’ in the rest of Iraq. In a special report that is part of the BBC’s 100 Women Season, I found out more about the grass roots campaign that led to this practice being outlawed. I wanted to know if enough is being done to enforce the law, and end FGM in Kurdistan altogether.

One leg of my journey was to the sleepy village of Toutkhal — in a remote and mountainous area in Iraqi Kurdistan. At first glance, life seems untouched by the modern world. The small mud houses, surrounded by farm animals and people living off the land make it hard to imagine why this village would make the news.

But there have been dramatic changes here. Toutakal is one of a handful of villages in Iraqi Kurdistan to have banned female gentile mutilation after the practice was outlawed in 2011. The mayor of the village, Sarhad Wahab, proudly told me that after the ban the government started paying attention to Toutkhal — providing the village with a new school and electricity in the past few months alone. But he tells me that’s not why they banned it.

“We believe that your body is yours and cutting part of it is an act of violence. We are very proud to be the first to start this campaign. We banned FGM because we knew it was wrong”. The mayor and his wife Nesri seem to have a genuine commitment to the cause — they stopped their youngest daughter Dunia from being cut years ago. But her elder sister Seibar was cut in secret by her grandmother while her parents were out of the house.

Nesri told me what happened to her eldest daughter. “They knew I would not want to cut my girl. So they cut her when I was out. And it was irreversible. For many, the ban has come too late here — almost every woman and girl I spoke to had already had ‘khatana’.

Deeman, one of Dunia’s friends, told me about her experience: “I was very little and I was playing with a friend of mine when my mum grabbed me and said the man who sells fruits and vegetables and sweets is here in the village, so we’re going to buy you something. They took me to a house and that’s where i had khatana. If I had known I would not have gone.”

She told me,“I remember it was very painful...two women held me down. I know our bodies belong to us so why did they take something that was mine why did they cut a piece of me that was mine?”

Her mother Talaat cut all five of her daughters — including Deeman. She told me she never meant to harm her daughter, she was only doing what she thought was best.

Sitting next to her mother, Deeman looked upset. I asked her if she was angry at her mother.

“There’s no need to be angry with my mother. It was a widespread practice and we love her. We should be angry with those who spread this practice in the name of religion,” she told me.

One of the main reasons why Khatana or FGM is prevalent is that many still believe that it’s part of Islamic practice.

Mullah Omar Chngyani, an Islamic scholar, has written extensively about the subject. “This practice is not in Islam, it’s a traditional practice not a religious one — it’s a form of oppression for women”. It’s a tradition that’s been passed on through generations.

Chngyani says, “Some people choose to follow a certain school of Islam literally without really understanding the teachings. But if you read and understand deeply you’ll know that Islam could never tell us to hurt anyone.”

The dramatic change in the village of Toutakal is part of a campaign funded by a local charity — Wadi — to end FGM in the Middle East.

When FGM was uncovered, it sent shock waves through society. What’s remarkable is that it was discovered by chance. In 2004 — following the fall of Saddam Hussein — Kurdistan was braced for refugees from the rest of Iraq. And Wadi sent teams into the villages to provide support.

The refugees never arrived, but Wadi’s staff started coming back with stories of young girls being cut. Falah Muradkan Shaker is the head of Wadi and one of the champions of the campaign. “One of our team members in Gamiyan region informed us that people were asking them about female genital mutilation: if they cut how they should cut, these kind of things, and we were quite surprised. We knew that it existed but we didn’t know this practice was still continuing.”

Falah took his findings to the authorities, who were shocked by the idea that FGM could still be happening in Kurdistan. “When the reports came out the Kurdistan Regional Government denied it.

“Then it became a kind of challenge between us and we needed to prove whether or not it existed.” This was a start of a seven-year campaign with other charities and film makers who travelled from village to village to get women’s testimonies on camera.

After years of campaigning, a law was eventually passed criminalising FGM.

Gasha Dara was head of the Women’s Rights Committee when the law was passed and helped push the ban through parliament. “This matter has been difficult for the members of parliament and even society to accept. We were often told by ordinary people — don’t you have anything better to work on than FGM?’ We knew we might face difficulties in mentioning FGM due to cultural sensitivities, so we decided we should put FGM within a wider proposal for a law against domestic violence,” Gasha said.

The law was a huge milestone but the campaign to end FGM was not over. When the law changed in 2011 some warned that banning the practice would simply drive it underground.

“This law is trying to change a culture that existed for a long time. As a result, the law has not penetrated people’s minds yet. In the next term we need to work more to understand the problems with this law and why it isn’t being implemented. Is it a problem with the law itself, or the way it is policed? We have to make sure this law will prevent FGM,” Gasha added.

The Kurdish Government has now promised a comprehensive survey of the levels of FGM, which should be delivering results in the next few years. But the human cost of this practice is much harder to quantify.