Findings from a recent study done in Iraqi-Kurdistan about FGM:
With the recent advocacy and awareness campaigns in the region many people have become more aware of the health concerns related to FGM. However, rejecting a practice that is deeply embedded in the roots of the society cannot be simply achieved by recognizing its harms. The women with this viewpoint were very well educated, were originally from urban areas and were from the middle to high socioeconomic class.
The consensus perspective, “marital role”, centers primarily on lack of effect of FGM on women’s marital role and maturity. In several societies where FGM is practiced, a girl can’t be considered an adult/women until she has FGM and hence a girl cannot marry without going through FGM. However, this notion does not seem to be an important reason for performing FGM in IKR.
In fact, some important efforts have been made to fight FMG in IKR. The reports of high prevalence of FGM in 2007 resulted in launching the campaign of “Stop FGM in Kurdistan” by a number of civil society organizations and women’s rights groups to abandon this practice. Such effort resulted in passing the Domestic Violence Bill in June 2011, which includes several provisions criminalizing FGM in IKR.
The regional government established a supreme council for women’s affairs to oversee and coordinate activities and a special police directorate responsible to combat all types of gender-based violence including FGM. Many civil society organizations are working with communities and religious leaders to reduce the practice of FGM.
Finally, I hope that the findings of our study and other similar studies can add to these efforts through providing more insight into this problem and helping in guiding the efforts to fight FGM in IKR.