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by Evgeni Zotov

by Evgeni Zotov

In December 2012 the UN general assembly passed a resolution which bans female genital mutilation (FGM). According to UN estimates up to 140 million girls and women worldwide are effected by FGM. Yet, it could be many more. It has long been believed that the practice was solely an African phenomenon. Great progress has been achieved in eliminating the harmful procedure on the African continent.

However, in the past decade evidence has surfaced that FGM exists in many countries in Asia as well. In Iraq, Oman, the Emirates, Malaysia and Indonesia FGM is common among some parts of society. In many of these countries research is sketchy and health officials are thus reluctant to tackle the subject.

Change is possible. Only a few years ago no one in Iraq recognized the problem. Today, the practice has been outlawed in Northern Iraq, an awareness campaign by WADI is supported by the Kurdish Regional Government. FGM rates have been dropping rapidly in regions targeted by the campaign. A documentary by BBC and Guardian tells the Iraqi-Kurdish success story.

The campaign Stop FGM in the Middle East aims to spread this message in the whole Middle East. Stop FGM Middle East collects existing research, conducts new studies, supports local women’s and human rights groups working on FGM, organizes trainings and consults officials.

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Further Reading:

UN Women, Dec 20, 2012: United Nations bans female genital mutilation

We have a great task ahead of us. To combat FGM in the Middle East, we will train local activists, help set up local associations and lobby for Anti-FGM legislation. This campaign has been very successful in Iraq, to advance to other countries, we need your support.