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Kirkuk Now | 08.02.2012. original text

WADI: 50% of Kirkuk women circumcised

In its latest report on FGM, the German WADI says the circumcised women are facing social challenges to an extent of insult.

The records are dangerous

The report which resulted from a filed investigation on FGM in Kirkuk province, says out of one thousand participants, 600 hundred were circumcised. The report concludes that over 50% of the province’s women are circumcised. One of the phases of the investigation was a fieldwork of distributing 1 thousand 250 forms asking 60 questions only for women above the age of 12. The WADI teams were exposed to several social, religious and cultural obstacles while investigating the issue. They were even threatened with death, “if they stirred the FGM subject.”

Religious Obstacles

WADI reports that all the factions of Kirkuk expect for Christians, which do not circumcise their girls, made obstacles for their work. The Kakaiyie (a mixture of Islam and ancient Iranian religions) narrate abnormal stories on FGM and believe that circumcision starts with their religion. The Muslims say circumcision is a sunnah (ritual) of the prophet Muhammad while Kakaiyies say the origin only attributers to them. Among Kakaiyies, girls are circumcised without the knowledge of their parents and sent back as a gift to their families. Although the teams worked on the people’s awareness on the subject and met with religious clerics, “But they considered the teams as westerners and agents of sedition and deforming Islam.” The report says the Pana Centre invited some Mullahs to discuss the subject of FGM, “But they said we should not prohibit circumcision, and claimed that the project intends to remove and deform Islam.” The report also notes that recent data and statistics show the increase in the killing of women, and that “Some of the women are facing family problems because of their lack of interest in sex (since they are circumcised).” Also the Mullahs claimed that FGM is not dangerous for women’s health, but some of them agreed stating that, “If it’s harmful for the society and hurts families, then it’s better not to be done.” The Shitti and Turkmen Mullahs said, “FGM should not be prohibited, but it should be done on the decision of their families.”

The report also notes that some of those who are not circumcised are facing insults as, their feeding is haram (religiously prohibited). The report brings an example where a woman from Prde town circumcises herself by her own hand in the result of people’s talks, “They told me my feeding is haram so much. They were coming to my house but did not touch anything. I was forced to circumcise myself. I lay in bed for three months because of bleeding and pain.” The team visited Prde to meet with the women and the Mullah of the town. The Mullah retaliated that his father (whose also a Mullah) supports circumcision and if he knows you have come to stop the phenomenon, he’d encourage people to throw stones at the team.

Social obstacles

One of the obstacles facing the team was girls were ashamed to discuss the subject directly related to their genitals. “Once we met with 30 women in Altun Kopri, and only one of them was not circumcised. But when the media came in, the women were fearful and some of them left the meeting which means the subject should be closed.” The report tells another story when a mother circumcised five of her girls. When she was asked why did she do that, she answered, “I knew a girl not circumcised was very quarrelsome, that’s why we should circumcise girls.” Another story is from Hawija, where an 18-year old girl married to a Kurdish boy, but the boy only agreed if the girl agrees to circumcision. The girl was only married after she was circumcised. She has two daughters now, but divorced. “I was reading about FGM before and I knew it was harmful for sex and pain. But for the boy I agreed to circumcision,” said the girl. “I had bedtime issues, whenever the boy came to me I remembered the moment where they cut it with razor,” said the girl.

Cultural obstacles

The norms of Kirkuk province reflect in their individuals from all the factions. When it came to FGM, the factions called the teams deviators and deformers of culture. In Shwan district, a woman was faced with violence since she was not ready to circumcise her daughters. Her relatives struck her in the head and her husband divorced her three times but remarried her later. The woman who was not ready to circumcise her daughters narrates her story when she was a child. Although WADI teams had formal permission to speak and carry out interviews, they were faced with death threats in Taza town, which is dominated by Shiite Turkmens. “You should not ask such questions to our children, or we behead you!” the teams were told. The teams left the town to surrounding villages. “The Hawija team was facing threats three times more than other teams and they were forced to leave several times,” the report says.

WADI teams now planning a new mechanism to face the phenomenon as campaigns of signature collecting to prohibit FGM and awareness raising of people concerning the issue. The doctors were also asked to explain the negative effects of FGM to people.