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Cleric supports Battle against Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan

February 10, 2014

SULÊMANÎ, Kurdistan region ‘Iraq’,—  For many years, people have believed that practicing of female genital mutilation (FGM) is required by Islamic religion, and that is why the majority of people, especially in towns and villages in KRG provinces, adhere to the practice.

However, a well-known Kurdish Islamic scholar recently issued a Fatwa “a ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority” against the practice. Mustafa Zalmi says that not only does FGM have nothing to do with Islam, but, “Practicing FGM is taboo.” According to a report by the Gatestone Institute, Zalmi, “ He argued that as FGM is absent from Mecca and Medina, where the Islamic revelation was received and the early Muslim community was organized, there is no justification for its existence either there or in remote places such as Iraqi Kurdistan.”

A prominent Kurdish women‌s rights advocate, Avan Abdulkarim Salih, has said, “Many spouses are divorced and many families are destroyed because the wife has undergone genital mutilation, and that caused frigidity. We partially marry to enjoy sex, but that is not possible, for most of us, who were born before 2000, have undergone genital mutilations.”

To eliminate FGM, the KRG joined by the women‌s NGO‌s and many Mallas has made heroic efforts; yet, the practice continues in some places.

In addition to the KRG efforts, in August of 2011, the Kurdistan Parliament passed the anti-domestic violence law banning FGM. Yet, the women organizations say that the law is not enforced in many parts of the region, including small towns and villages.

The Kirkuk Center for Violence Victims asks the KRG to take responsibility for eradicating this barbaric practice. The center holds the government accountable to enforce the 2011 anti-domestic violence legislation,for that law is a step toward solving the problem and could save innocent girls from undergoing this illegal procedure. The Center points out that because the law has not been implanted many young girls are still subjected to FGM each year.

Salah Amhed, director of Kirkuk Center for Violence said, “Subjects of FGM has been affected psychologically, so we try to work as a rehabilitation center as well.”

The 2011 anti-domestic violence law banned FGM completely, and says that anyone involved in FGM will be jailed for at least 6 years; nevertheless, Salah Amhed says, according to some statistics, the problem continues in many towns and cities.

February 6, 2014, was designated by the United Nations as International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation. To commemorate this day, each year in the Kurdistan Region, a range of activities and events are held by women‌s organizations and independent activists. These activists claim they have done everything to raise public awareness about the dangers of the practice. However, the KRG has not taken the issue seriously, and that inaction is the focus of our petition.

By Hawdang Kamal – KNNC