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Anti-FGM Campaigners Mark Progress in Egypt

We News, 23.12.2013. By Jessica Gray

After the death of 13-year-old Suhair al Bata’a this summer, an intensive awareness campaign about the hazards of FGM/C reached into 11 governorates across Egypt. But advocates say the battle against a practice dating back to the age of the Pharaohs will take time and persistence.

CAIRO, Egypt (WOMENSENEWS)– Egyptian gynecologist Dr. Randa Fakhr Eldeen still remembers the horror she felt 20 years ago at seeing a victim of female genital mutilation, or cutting, for the first time.

The girl, only about 10 years old, had been rushed to Manshiet el Bakry Hospital’s emergency room in the capital, suffering massive blood loss. Eldeen, still in training, said she was confused by the girl’s life-threatening injuries.

“I didn’t know what had happened because we don’t practice FGM/C in my family . . . It’s not taught in medical school . . . She was unconscious and we had to give her [several] blood transfusions. I think she was given six bags of blood. She was going to die and her mother [kept] crying about her hymen,” recalls Eldeen. “I couldn’t stay in the emergency room. I had to leave. I was crying.”

FGM/C, also known as female circumcision, has a long history in Egypt. She says the practice came from Ethiopia during the Pharaonic era. In 2007 the practice was outlawed after the death of a 12-year-old in Minya. Nonetheless, the vast majority of women between 15 and 49 have endured the procedure. A 2008 Egyptian Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) of women married at least once puts the estimate at 91 percent. Read More

Sexual mutilations outside Africa : new report and new denial except the Iraqi case

Sisyphe, 19.12.2013. Interview with Oliver M. Piecha, researcher at Stop FGM in the Middle East

by Mirielle Vallette

The new summary report of UNICEF still does not dare to address the issue of female genital mutilation in the Middle East and South East Asia. Wadi, an German-Iraqi NGO lobbies to make things change.

UNICEF have compiled data collected during 20 years in 28 countries in Africa and Yemen. For the first time, they include Irak. They summarize their findings in a report released in July 2013 (1). In most countries, a great part of girls and women who have undergone mutilations do not see the benefit of them and believe that this practice should stop. The practice continues mainly because mothers who get their daughter mutilated think that other mothers expect them do it as well. As they never talk together about the topic, they do not know that many women are not favorable. A lot of men are also opposed to them. (more…)

The Lancet: FGM in the Middle East

13.12.2013. The renown science magazine “The Lancet” acknowledges on its editor’s page that FGM exists beyond Africa. Under the title “Female genital mutilation in the Middle East” Farrokh Habibzadeh affirms:

“FGM is mainly practised in Africa but is also done in other regions. For example, the prevalence of this procedure is very high in Iraqi Kurdistan. Saleem and colleagues reported that 23% of more than 1500 girls with a mean age of almost 14 years from Iraqi Kurdistan had had FGM, at a mean age of 5 years. FGM is also common in Iranian Kurdistan and Egypt where the procedure is prohibited by law.”
This is a good step ahead even if there are still many countries missing in the list.

Female genital mutilation on the rise among Southeast Asian Muslims

Global Post, 10.12.2013. More than 90 percent of women surveyed in Malaysia have been circumcised, and experts say increasing regional Islamic conservatism may be the reason why.

Though World Health Organization reporting in 2011 indicated a decline in the practice of female genital mutilation — also known as female circumcision — experts say it is actually being practiced at much higher rates among Southeast Asian Muslims than previously thought.

The rise, they suggest, correlates directly to increasing conservative attitudes throughout the region.

On December 20, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously accepted a resolution on the elimination of female genital mutilation, saying that the practice affects between 100 and 140 million women and girls worldwide. But nearly a full year later, it appears the ban has had little to no effect in the southernmost tip of Southeast Asia.

A 2012 study conducted by Dr. Maznah Dahlui, an associate professor in Malaysia’s University of Malaya’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, found that 93.9 percent of Muslim women surveyed had been circumcised. In Indonesia, a 2010 Population Council study of six provinces indicated that between 86 and 100 percent of teenage girls had undergone the procedure. In both studies, 90 percent of Muslim women surveyed expressed support for the practice, claiming that it fulfills a religious obligation and fosters purity in women by controlling their sexual desire.

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Iraqi Kurdistan fights female circumcision

Deutsche Welle. 9.12.2013. Female circumcision is slowly declining in Iraqi Kurdistan. Years of campaigning and a law against the practise have borne fruit. Some villages went from 100 percent of all young girls being circumcised to none.

“Circumcision brought us problems. It is much better for husband and wife when it is not happening.” The mokhtar of Twtakal, a small village in Iraqi Kurdistan is very clear about it. The practice of FGM, or female genital mutilation, should be eradicated.

The village chief is proud that his village has stopped circumcising its women, where only two years ago still every mother had it done to her daughters. It was a bad habit, Kak Sarhad told DW. “For men, who have all these layers, it is cleaner. But women don’t have that and don’t need it.”

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Meeting a Circumciser: “Men suffer from it” – In Salalah facing up against FGM is almost impossible

By Stop FGM Mideast

Salalah 4.12.2013. The women at the Women’s Association call her Doctor Marzouka. With her sun glasses and gold rings on her fingers the 50 something year old lady has a modern air around her. Playing with her car keys she shows that she is an emancipated woman – women driving is not at all for granted in this conservative part of Oman. Doctor Mazouka works as a doctor’s help in a state hospital, at the side she cuts the clitoris of newborn girls.

“She is very smart. When she worked with the doctor in the surgery she watched closely what he does. This is how she learned,” explains Saida, who works since 15 years for the Salalah branch of the Women’s Association, the semi-official organization for women in Oman. The Association has arranged the meeting with the cutter.

Marzouka is proud of her skills. She stresses that she is trained and not a traditional cutter. “My mother did not do this. I trained myself in the hospital.”

Openly, she describes her job: “I use a clamp and then a knife.” She carries rubber gloves and two sprays, one anaestatic one disinfectant, in her bag. Her business runs well. She cuts two to seven girls a day, she says, making 15 riyals (30 Euros) each. Most costumers she meets in the hospital in the delivery ward. In Dhofar, the Southern province of Oman, girls are traditionally mutilated in the first two days of their lives. Marzouka also advertises her services on the internet and besides, everybody knows her in town – as the women of the association confirm. (more…)

Oman: Precise descriptions of FGM already in the 1960s

When Phillips lived in Oman people dressed like in this filmset in Mirbat. Even though an outsider and a man he seemed to have no difficulties to find out about FGM.

When Phillips lived in Oman people dressed like in this filmset in Mirbat. Even though an outsider and a man he seemed to have no difficulties to find out about FGM.

By Stop FGM Middle East

Salalah, 3.12.2013. In recent years there have merely been rumors that female genital mutilation is practiced in Oman. Some bloggers wrote about it. In UN publications, the country was mentioned occasionally in reference to FGM, but no one seemed to know more. Most people seemed to believe that it exists only in the Southern region of Dhofar bordering Yemen – and thus was a phenomenon connected to Yemeni culture.

Now, Wadi’s Stop FGM in the Middle East team is visiting the country on a fact finding mission. We are speaking with those people who reported on its existence, with journalists, potential actors and diplomats. Our findings are clear: FGM is practiced in all regions of Oman even though probably not by all ethnic and religious groups. It also varies in severity: While in Dhofar large parts of the female genitalia are supposedly cut the practice in the North seems less severe. We also heard several times that it exists in other gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and even Saudi Arabia.

Internationally, the existence of FGM in the gulf regions was long denied. Yet, knowledge about FGM in Oman is not new at all. An archeologist and consultant to the Omani Sultan has reported on it already in the 1960s. Wendell Phillips writes in his book “Unknown Oman”: “Among the Qara (inhabitants of the mountains behind Salalah), radical clitoridectomy – or complete female circumcision (…) – is clumsily and brutally performed without ceremony at the birth of the female child. In the rest of Oman the little girl merely has the top of her clitoris, which is regarded as the prime center of sexual excitability, incised at the age of ten or soon after birth a bit of fine rock salt is placed on her clitoris which is then eliminated (rubbed away) by the insertion of a finger.” (p.174)

Phillips who lived on and off in Oman during the 1950s and 60s also analyses the social consequences of the practice: “If the truth were told a high percentage of Arab wives are among the world most embittered and frigid, while the Arab male is among the world’s unhappiest husbands. In his supreme effort to insure martial fidelity the Omani husband in numerous instances has equipped himself with up to four unresponsive ice cold mates whose genital organs have been deliberately mutilated by having the clitoris cut out along with its foreskin and in extreme cases the sanguinary ablation of the labia minora as well, thus eliminating in most instances all female pleasure and sensation during sexual intercourse and, to the self-centered male, any possible desire in his females to indulge in extra marital relations.” (p. 136)

Phillips analyses clearly a consequence long ignored in the discourse about FGM. The practice was always adressed as a medical problem. Only in recent years, sexual and social aspects came into focus, e.g. a Saudi study examines the connection of sexual dysfunction and FGM. The first thing one journalist asked us here in Oman concerned the connection of divorces and marital problems.

Our contacts here are convinced that FGM could be eliminated within few years in Oman if only a campaign was initiated. Education level is high and people are generally responsive to government campaigns, we heard.

It could be asked why international organizations have so long ignored Oman and other gulf countries when evidence was so clear and success through a campaign seems quite possible.