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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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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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+972: How Arab women fought female genital mutilation in Israel

28.2.2016. Just 20 years ago, female genital mutilation was an accepted practice in six Bedouin tribes in southern Israel. Jewish researchers couldn’t figure out why the practice disappeared — because they didn’t talk to the Arab women’s group fighting it.

By Eli Aminov on Blog +972

Half a century ago, one didn’t need to go all the way to Kenya to research the phenomenon of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): you could do so in Israel. The practice was common among some of the Bedouin population in the Negev, and this was 40 years after the majority became Israeli citizens. (more…)

Talking to circumcisers in Iran: Kind women, violent tradition

22.2.2016. By Rayehe Mozafarian

More than 7000 communities across Africa are working to abandon FGM. But there are some other countries in the Middle East and Asia where FGM is also common as a tradition. Despite the efforts of some organizations in the Middle East and Asia mutual cooperation between the respective governments and international organizations is difficult in some countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and etc. (more…)

Now This: Up to 72% of Kurdish Women in Iraq suffer female genital mutilation

 9.2.2016.Bildschirmfoto 2016-02-11 um 11.46.20

Up to 72% of Kurdish women in Iraq still suffer genital mutila…Female genital mutilation is still too common in too many places

FGM: Slow progress when talking to the UN about numbers

5.2.2016, by Stop FGM Middle East

UNICEF just came out with new numbers on FGM. Instead of 140 million, the United Nations Children’s fund now estimates the number of women and girls having undergone female genital mutilation worldwide to be at least 200 million. Those extra 60 million come from adding Indonesia to the list of countries “where FGM is most concentrated”.

But FGM in Indonesia is no news. Everybody who is concerned with FGM knows that the practice is widespread not only in Indonesia, but also in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei. In the case of Indonesia, there were several small and large studies showing how widespread FGM was. In 2003, a large-scale study by the Population Council and USAID found that 86-100% of girls aged 19 reported to be “circumcised” (number of households surveyed: 1694). (more…)

Day of Zero Tolerance: Campaign in Kurdistan in danger

Stop FGM Middle East Press Release, Suleymaniah and Berlin, February 6th 2016

After a most successful year campaigning against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Iraqi Kurdistan and many countries in the Middle East and Asia, WADI has to announce that large parts of the campaign will not continue. (more…)

Female Genital Mutilation footmark in south of Iran

3.2.2015. On the occasion of International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, we are featuring a background on the practice of FGM in the province of Hormozgan in Southern Iran. Our partner Rayehe Mozafarian who has done a study in that region is reporting about her encounters with traditional midwifes. (more…)