18.01.2015; By Haje Keli, Wadi
As the activities of WADI against Female genital mutilation (FGM) in Iraqi Kurdistan enter another year in cooperation with local organizations and supported by UNICEF and HIVOS, a number of members of the various organizations collaborating on this effort have provided some feedback after about half a year of work on the project.
Here are a few of their testimonials.
“I have worked with FGM and WADI since 2011 and I am happy that I am working on FGM in Kirkuk because the city is like a miniature Iraq – many of the ethnicities present in the city and the surrounding area are found in other areas of Iraq. Working on FGM really affected my organization and me personally because initially people did not receive us very well. Our Hawija team, which went to work with the local population, were stoned and driven out of the area. Women were, however, still willing to be interviewed by our teams but would do so in secret and away from their family members, which speaks to the importance of continuing to work with FGM. From working with UNICEF and WADI, I am convinced that the number of victims of FGM are much higher than initially believed, which is why I am very pleased that our cooperation will continue. I am committed to combating and eventually ending FGM, which is why I take risks everyday. If we tackle FGM, we can also work towards combating other forms of violence against women, because all women’s issues are connected.”
Awezan Nury – General director, PANA organization -Kirkuk
“Working with FGM has really affected me because I meet many women that are affected by problems relating to FGM. I have often cried with and for the women. I am happy that our cooperation with UNICEF and WADI is continuing because I wish to delve deeper into the issue of FGM and study and understandthe details of every case. This is important because then we can emphasize with the parents and the children in families that practice FGM. This project is very beneficial because it will definitely help reduce FGM and therefore help prevent women from having their sexual desires reduced. FGM needs to be stopped because it ruins people’s mental wellbeing, and we should not touch what God has so faultlessly created.”
Kurdistan Rasoul –Staff member, GSIO- Erbil
“Working with the topic of FGM has affected me a great deal. Through our outings as a team, I have met many women who are traumatized. They often use humor to mask their pain and joke about the abuse they face daily, which is often tied to being mutilated at a young age. I think it is very important to continue with the FGM project because we still have a great deal of work to do to raise awareness. I want to help women keep all their healthy body parts!”
Kanar Hama Amin – Staff member, PDO – Sulaimanyah
“I was unaware that FGM had so many detrimental effects, nor did I know that it was illegal in Kurdistan. Thanks to the information I received through WADI’s training, I realized why I needed to work towards eradicating this practice in Kurdistan. From talking to women during our outings I noticed that the information they gave me about their health problems corresponded with the information I read about FGM related health issues in WADI’s pamphlets. I wish to end FGM and that can be done by making sure that we visit as many homes as possible and pushing people to learn about the complications of the practice.”
Evin Atta – Staff member, Nwe Organization -Halabja
“I was oblivious to the fact that FGM had been outlawed in Kurdistan before I began working with UNICEF and WADI. I did, however, know that FGM existed in the Badinan region because I knew of people who were affected. People always deny that FGM is happening and they lie about it because they believe it is inappropriate to talk about such personal matters. Especially men tell us that the topic is too private and that we should leave it alone. This is why I am pleased that project is continuing; more work needs to be done on the topic to bring it more out in the open. There is too little awareness on the law as well, and families need to know that what they are doing to their children is illegal. Most people are unaware that FGM is abuse and that it is punishable by law. Children in our country are often abused in the name of discipline. FGM is not a part of a correct child discipline and it should also be recognized by families as one of the worst forms of abuse.”
Shilan Muhammad Hassan – Staff member, Alind organization -Dohuk