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18.01.2009

Recently Published Articles about FGM in Iraqi-Kurdistan

The ongoing public debate in Iraqi-Kurdistan about the widespread practice of female genital mutilation in the region has been recently boosted by a Washington Post article on the issue.

We are glad to present here translated excerpts from various Kurdish newspapers, to update you on the developments in this debate. Previous contributions to the debate, published last year in Hawlati newspaper are available in translation as well.

The open and persistent criticism of the Kurdish regional government for failing to take action against female genital mutilation within its jurisdiction, not only shows that public opinion opposes this practice, but also that free press and expression finally have a chance to develop in Iraq after long decades of dictatorship and repression.

 

December 06, 2008
RASAN newspaper
www.hetaw.net
No to Female Genital Mutilation
by Ms. Ara

The Minister of Health explained that FGM is a violation of women's rights and that there is a direct link between FGM and physical and psychological problems.

There is no precise, official data on the rates of FGM in Kurdistan, but the information collected by the German based NGO WADI since 2004 shows that from a total of 3,961 women and girls in 124 villages, 3,188 were circumcised (mutilated), clearly indicating that there is a problem.

The Department for Maternity Care in Erbil, registered in 2007 11,718 mutilated women, and for the first couple of months 19,211, showing a clear increase of mutilation of girls in this period.

Zhyan Women's Union carried out a small independent research, and found that from the 1,485 women in the ages from 12 – 40, 72% were mutilated , with the majority of women being illiterate.

 

January 04, 2009
Independent newspaper Hawlati
www.hawlati.info
For Kurdish Girls, a Painful Ancient Ritual
by Mrs Amit R. Paley
29 December 2008, Washington Post, USA.

Translated into Kurdish by Shelan Jalal, and re-published in Hawlati, January 4, 2009, including nine pictures.

The editorial criticises the Kurdish government, focusing on a statement by the Minister of Human Rights, insisting that FGM is nothing but a minor problem

 

January 04, 2009
Independent newspaper Hawlati
www.hawlati.info

In the same issue of Hawlati on page 20, Kazhaw Jamal wrote in an article titled “The Big Crime of Mutilating” that the people of Kurdistan cannot remain silent any longer.

“When we see pictures of female circumcision in the Washington Post, it is not enough to cry feel sad about the cruel images. The real tragedy begins when we hear that the parliamentarians of our modern society are too shy to discuss this topic in the parliament. It sounds like a sad joke when we hear that while FGM endangers girls' lives everyday, members of the parliament are too shy to talk about it.”

Mr. Jamal writes further that he regrets to hear that this is the level of action and engagement of the parliamentarians with the people they represent.

Another tragedy started when the Minister of Human Rights made a statement that FGM is only a small problem and there is no need to prevent it by creating new laws.

The Minister of Human Rights made this statement in one of his recent speeches. The minister who was appointed to defend human rights should not define which one of the rights is important or not. “Dear Minister, NO ONE has the right to abuse children or cut away any part of their bodies. I suppose that Minister is not in need of more information regarding the rights of children?!”

We also heard that our political leaders don't like the attention given to FGM by the international media. This is yet another cynical joke in Kurdistan: “our leaders don't mind when crimes happen within our society but they become concerned about the fact that the international media gets hold of this information.”

 

January 06, 2008
Rozhnama Newspaper
nr 378, page 2 (Social Issues)
www.rozhnama.com

Iraqi Project Coordinator for Wadi Mr Falah Muradkhin published: “FGM and Voting for Shyness”.

In this article Mr. Muradkhin explains that most of the governmental and non-governmental institutions in Kurdistan have not taken seriously the FGM problem since the beginning of the “Stop FGM” campaign, launched in March 2007.

WADI has lead the campaign to the most part by itself. As a result of the »Stop FGM in Kurdistan« campaign, the issue was discussed in the parliament in February 2008, but was too “shy” to continue the discussions in parliament, and preferred to ignore the issue.

During this period, WADI has put several proposals to the Ministry for Women Affairs, calling them to support the FGM awareness campaign. One proposal asked for funding to the FGM awareness campaign (15, 590USD$), the other proposal aimed to get the Ministry's support in the implementation of a research project in Northern Iraq (50,000USD$), about the practice of FGM. However, the Kurdish government did not accept the proposals and refused to become involved.

The Kurdish government wanted to hide the FGM problem . This, however, is not a clever choice, as all the information about FGM is spreading quickly in Kurdistan and abroad.  A search for “FGM in Kurdistan” on the internet already yields hundreds of articles about this issue and the »Stop FGM in Kurdistan« campaign is easy to find, through its website www.stopfgmkurdistan.org.

 

January 07, 2009
Independent newspaper Hawlati
www.hawlati.info

An article by Mr Sarwar Saeed appeared in the Hawlati newspaper about the psychological and social effects of FGM. He addresses that problem that by cutting the clitoris, women lose positive sexual feelings.

These effects create an unhealthy balance for both men and women , resulted in strengthening of the male dominance.

According to UN reports yearly 2 million girls face circumcisions in African, which amounts approximately six thousand girls daily!  Even though FGM is a crime in most of the modern world, it still happens.

Some years ago WADI published statistics about the practice of FGM taken from 116 villages. From a total of 3,665 women and girls, 2,403 were mutilated. Approx 65%!

Ms Waris Dirie writes in her book “Rose in the Desert” that she hopes that one day no more women will face this pain. When you hear the people say that Somalia forbids FGM, and other countries will follow, then the world might become safer for women.

 

January 11, 2009
Independent newspaper Hawlati
pages 1, 10 & 11
www.hawlati.info

Page 1:
WADI's reaction to a statement by the Minister of Human Rights, who was cited in the Washington Post: “FGM is a small problem”.

WADI released recent data from 54 villages, 1,175 women from a total of 1,198 were found to be circumcised, presenting the question to the Minister if according to these figures it is true that FGM is a “little problem”.

Pages 10 & 11:
An interview with Mr Falah Muradkhin, the Iraqi Project Coordinator, WADI: Mr Muradkhin gave details about the FGM campaign lead by WADI and the activities of the organisation since 2004.

Mr Muradkhin added that the Ministry of Religion is aware of the crime of FGM and that they bear responsibility , as most people practice circumcision in the name of religion. If the Ministry wants to influence the practice, they can give directions to the Mullahs, who receive their salaries from the government, to give advice to their people to stop this practice.  The ministry should also challenge the Islamic clergymen who do not follow the 2006 Fatwa from Azhar, in which clear directions are given to stop the bad practice, or even issue their own Fatwa relating to banning FGM.

Mr Muradkhin told in the interview that WADI has often invited the Kurdish Regional Government to participate in the »Stop FGM in Kurdistan« campaign, but never received a serious reply. Instead the parliament declared that its members too shy to discuss this topic during the first sessions of parliament. It is very regretful to discover this attitude among the people that are supposed to defend the rights of the people of Kurdistan.

The interview also includes a brief description of the history and the activities of the »Stop FGM in Kurdistan« campaign and the steps that were taken by WADI in this field since 2007. Mr. Muradkhin explains how they lobbied the parliament, and recruited the support of 68 parliamentarians, who signed the first draft of a law against FGM.

 

January 12, 2009
Independent Newspaper Awena
www.awena.com

The Ministry of Religion gave a statement through their spokesperson Mr. Marewan Naqshbane, according to which the ministry is not responsible for FGM issues . The statement was given in response to Mr Falah Moradkhin from WADI, who criticized the refusal of the Ministry to get involved in action against FGM in an interview for Hawlati Newspaper (January 11, 2009).

Mr. Naqsbande further states that he does not consider that FGM to be a big problem. He added that the Mullahs are not speaking about this topic but that some organizations are “blow up” the problem in order to make good profit out of it.

The spokesperson adds that the coordinator of WADI, and the journalist from Hawlati who wrote the article, do not understand the duties and responsibilities of the Ministry of Religion, as they cannot issue a Fatwa or interfere in the duties of other ministries.

 

January 14, 2009
Independent newspaper Hawlati
Nr. 490
www.hawlati.com

Mr Falah Moradkhin replied to the statements made by the Ministry of Religion (January 12, 2009), “who is responsible for the big crime FGM, carried out in the name of Islam?”

Mr Moradkhin states that people in Kurdistan and the Islamic world are practice female circumcision because they believe it is Sunnat (the local name for FGM in Kurdistan is “Sunnat for girls”). There are many studies concerning the question whether it is indeed Sunnat or not, and the Ministry of Religion should speak more openly and frankly with the people, because they know that according to International Human Rights Law, FGM is considered a serious human and child rights violation.

Mr Moradkhin also says that all data relating to FGM gathered during 2008 from all over Kurdistan will be published in the coming issues of Hawlati, and that WADI will be look forward to hearing from anyone who can prove that this data is wrong.  With this data, every person shall be able to judge for themselves whether FGM is a small or a big problem.

Additionally, all information about FGM has been documented in articles, files, and documentaries, and much was recently published in the Washington Post, including photos, showing the horrific practice of FGM.

These photos have now been seen worldwide showing that the Kurdish people and the people of Africa have the same bad image: both are practicing female genital mutilation.