FGM means Female Genital Mutilation and it is still a big problem in our region. In Halabja Province more than 80% of the women used to be affected in 2004. More recently, the numbers have dropped in some parts.
The practice is a crime: Young girls in the age of 4 – 8 get the clitoris and part of the labia cut, usually by a midwife. As a result of this brutal operation whithout any anaesthetics many girls are scared and traumatized. Many suffer from bleedings, physical pain and late effects. Many state that their marriage is affected because their feelings are not very strong and they feel pain during intercourse. Time and again a girl is dying from the cutting.
The mothers are complicit in it because they think it is a religious duty and must be done. They think if they refuse the daughter will be bullied and never find a husband. According to traditional belief the food cooked by an uncircumcised woman is haram and must not be eaten. Uncircumcised women are thought to be “impure”.
Stop FGM in Kurdistan
From the first day on we were part of the Stop FGM in Kurdistan campaign . The campaign was driven by courageous activists, women’s rights organizations, artists, lawyers, doctors and journalists. FGM, a former total taboo, has become an issue widely discussed in the media and among the people.
A Milestone: Law Nr. 8
A comprehensive new law against many forms of domestic violence including FGM has been adopted by the Kurdish parliament.
This was a Milestone in our attempts to ban FGM and other form of domestic violence in Iraqi-Kurdistan.
An important part of our work to combat this serious human rights violation is to expose the myths and explain the truth to the local women. After ten years of continued efforts we can say that with some patience and repeated visits it really works. The FGM rate has dropped considerably in most of the places we repeatedly visited.
In the 2nd half of 2015 NWE team visited 1202 women in the villages of Halabja Province. 461 of them – “merely” 38% – indicated they have undergone FGM.
The reason: Most of the villages were not visited for the first time, and many women have already changed their mind and decided to abandon the practice.
Many women did so after hearing about the harmful consequences, especially the younger ones are very receptive and grateful for any information. General knowledge about the body and female health is very limited in Iraqi Kurdistan.
We provide them with brochures and other information material and we screen an awareness film especially made for this purpose. Then we encourage a discussion. Our team members are committed local women from the region familiar with language, culture and traditions.
We hope with your donation and kind support we will be able to continue this important work which can prevent so much suffering!