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Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM: Progress in Asia

Press release by WADI / Stop FGM Middle East & Asia

February 6th 2017. On the seventh official International Day of Zero Tolerance to female genital mutilation (FGM), it has been 13 years, that WADI first brought the issue FGM happening in Asia, in this case Iraq, to the international agenda. In this last decade WADI’s campaign against FGM in Iraq has yielded great success as a recent study by the Heartland Alliance in cooperation with Unicef and the High Council of Women Affairs shows. The rates of FGM in Northern Iraq have decreased dramatically when comparing mothers and daughters. Among mothers surveyed 44,8% reported to be cut compared to 10,7% of their daughters. The success of a comprehensive campaign becomes even more evident when looking at the figures of regions where WADI’s campaign started and has been going on since more than ten years: In the region of Halabja only 1.1% of daughters are cut today in comparison to 40% of mothers.

Only four years ago, WADI started the Asia-wide campaign Stop FGM Middle East & Asia. Its aim was to push against the resistance to include Asia on the map of FGM affected countries. This resistance was great and still, we do not fully comprehend why it seemed so difficult for more than a decade to recognize the existence of this cruel practice outside of Africa.

The recognition by the international community can be decisive for local activists to push their government to take measures against this human rights violation. In December, women’s rights groups of the Dawoodi Bohra community in India started a petition to call on the UN to recognize India as a country where FGM is practiced. They argue: „With the UN recognition, we the Bohra women will be able to make official appeals to the Indian government.“

By now, activists in many Asian countries have spoken up and made it impossible to deny that FGM exists in their countries. Most outspoken during the last year, was the campaign by the Bohra in India. Yet, also the campaign in Iran is gaining pace. A draft law prohibiting FGM has been submitted to the government and first hearings are due to take place. New studies in Iran shine a light on the important role of religion in the battle against FGM, showing both: the devastating role of Mullahs promoting FGM, but also how a religious ruling can stop the practice.

Also in Singapore, a subtle but noticeable debate about FGM has started. Last year, WADI and the Singaporean women’s organization AWARE were able to organize the first ever conference on FGM in this part of the world with participants from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and India.

Finally, last month WADI participated in a high level international conference in Rome where campaign groups, United Nations (UN) officials and government ministers met and called on governments to focus their attentions beyond Africa.

Such a focus on other regions in the world is urgently needed and not only on Asia. As the newest research by filmmaker John Chua and others could reveal, FGM does exist in far more countries than we previously thought. Among them are Cambodia and the Soviet republic of Dagestan, but also several communities in Latin America.

FGM can be eradicated in one generation. This is shown by the newest results from Iraq. Yet, local campaigns need support – and as a first step international recognition must take place.

 

Stop FGM Middle East Campaign | T +49 (0)30-60933390 | info@stopfgmmideast.org | www.stopfgmmideast.org

WADI e.V. | Herbornerstr. 62   60439 Frankfurt| Germany

T +49-69-57002440 info@wadinet.dewww.wadi-online.de

Wadi office in Iraq: 00964-7701-588173

 

Heartland study shows steep decline of FGM rates in Iraqi Kurdistan

10.1.2017. By Stop FGM Middle East.

A study by the Heartland Alliance in cooperation with Unicef and the High Council of Women Affairs shows a dramatic decrease in rates of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Northern Iraq when comparing mothers and daughters. Among mothers surveyed 44,8% reported to be cut compared to 10,7% of their daughters. Results also show a direct link between campaigning and decline of rates. Religion remains a major factor among those who continue the procedure on their children.

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Short film: Razor and Tradition

26.10.16. Our partner Rayehe Mozafarian made a short film about FGM in Iran which shows that it is still done in the villages to curb a girl’s lust and desire. But the tradition is fading because apparently some Mollahs have recommended to stop it (with English subtitles).

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Survey: Majority of religious leaders pro FGM in Kermansheh, Iran

11.8.2016. By Stop FGM Middle East. A recent survey among Sunni religous scholars in the Iranian province of Kermansheh shows that a majority of them (67%) believe that “female circumcision” is religiously obligatory or at least recommended for girls and women. In this province in the West of Iran, female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced by Sunni Kurds who adhere to the Shafi’i law school. Many of them believe that Islam commands them to have their girls cut. (more…)

How a religious ruling seems to have stopped FGM in the 1950s in Ahwaz, Iran

9.8.2016 By Stop FGM Middle East. Two new studies shed more light on the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the Middle East. For the first time, a study explores whether FGM is practiced in Syria – and comes to the conclusion that no evidence of its existence can be found.

Another study explores the history of FGM in the region of Ahwaz in the South-Western Iranian state of Khuzestan. Through talking to older women the PhD-student Susie Latham found that FGM was common in this region but has been abandoned completely without any official program in place. Furthermore, she found that it was first replaced by a milder form before the practice was stopped entirely.

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Iran: New book about FGM is distributed among health workers

5.7.2016. By Osman Mahmoudi. The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) affects Kurdish women and girls in the Iranian province of Kermanshah and continues within a complex web of social, cultural and economic justification. It is medically unnecessary and has adverse physical, sexual and psychosocial consequences. (more…)

Sahiyo: No, even ‘symbolic’ or ‘mild’ female genital cutting is NOT okay

2.7.2016. Should mild forms of Female Genital Cutting (FGC) be legalised? Should supposedly “harmless” nicking or slicing of clitoral tissue be medicalised, simply because getting communities to completely stop FGC happens to be a very difficult task?

There has always been some support for mild, medicalised FGC, chiefly from communities that claim to practice female “circumcision” and see it as completely different and divorced from any form of genital “mutilation”. And for years, this view has been firmly refuted by survivors and activists who don’t want any girl to experience the trauma, betrayal and potential harm that even the least severe forms of FGC can cause. (more…)

Sahiyo: Bohra Men Speak Out to Save Their Daughters from Female Genital Mutilation

27.6.2016. The fatwa given during the Zikra majlis by Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin in favor of female genital cutting dug up the wound in my heart, which is also the reason I am writing this post.

Looking at parts from the audio clip leaked from the majlis, at one point, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin says what translates to English as:

“It must be done. If it is a man, it can be done openly and if it is a woman it must be discreet. But the act must be done. Do you understand what I am saying? Let people say what they want.”

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Malaysia: female genital mutilation on the rise

22.6.2016. By Zofia Reych

Walls in the reception of the Global Ikhwan clinic in Rawang, north of Kuala Lumpur, are pale pink and a nice, if medical, scent is hanging in the air. A fashionable headscarf conceals the black hair of Najwa, a 24-year old woman, standing at the counter. She is wearing high heels and light blue denim trousers. Holding her five-year-old daugher firmly by the hand, Najwa is making an appointment with Dr. Mighilia Aziza, an obstetrician and a gynecologist. (more…)

LA Times: A rebellion inside a small Indian sect seeks to end a brutal custom: female genital mutilation

12.6.2016. By Shashank Bengali and Parth M.N.

When she was 7, Saleha Paatwala’s grandmother took her out for what she thought would be a party.

“I was told it would be a huge gathering where kids like me would also be,” Paatwala said.

Instead she found herself in a dark, messy room where three other women were waiting. They pulled her down, held her hands and feet so she couldn’t move and slipped off her underwear as she screamed.

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