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13.6.2014. Hivos. For ten years, Hivos partner WADI has been campaigning against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Iraqi Kurdistan. Director Thomas von der Osten-Sacken finds that communities are slowly but surely turning away from this degrading tradition.
Not an ‘African problem’
The Iraqi-German human rights organisation WADI first came upon the harrowing consequences of FGM in the Kurdish Autonomous Region through its mobile teams. “At that time, it was thought that FGM barely existed in Iraq. FGM was seen as an ‘African problem’,” says von der Osten-Sacken. “Right now in publications people talk of about 140 to 160 million women who have been genitally mutilated worldwide. But Indonesia – the country with the largest Muslim population in the world – is not included, and it is estimated that about 80 percent of women are circumcised there. If you add Iraq, Iran, Oman, Yemen and Malaysia, you come to the conclusion that the number of victims of FGM is probably twice as high.”