for Crisis Assistance and Development Co-operation
against Female Genital Mutilation in Kurdistan
women are subjected to a strict moral code that dominates their
patriarchal society. Most of these rules of social control are an
unspoken and deeply-rooted code of rules of behavior. Domestic
violence, forced marriages and “honor killings” are the common reality
of women in Northern Iraq . They are dependent on their male relatives
and subjected to their will. This reality hasn't been publicly
discussed and thousands of women suffer in silence. The rate of
suicides committed by women in Northern Iraq is very high.
taken from the film "Handful of Ash"
Genital Mutilation (FGM), like sexuality in general was considered an
absolute taboo. In 2004, WADI Garmyan mobile teams succeeded to break
the silence and discovered that female genital mutilation is widespread
in Northern Iraq. A pilot study gave evidence that 907 out of 1544
questioned women were victims of FGM. FGM was considered an “African
practice”. The staffs of WADI Garmyan's were indeed shocked by their
discovery. They initiated a large campaign against FGM.
campaign against FGM is the first large programme against female genital
mutilation in Iraq. Local mobile teams found out that FGM in Northern
Iraq is usually practiced by female family members or traditional
midwives on girls aged between 4 to 12 years. Instruments like razors
and knives are used to cut girls' clitoris according to the “sunnat-
excision”. The wound is usually covered by ashes, but no drugs are
given. Sometimes girls have to sit into a bowl of icy water.
justify this practice either by religion, tradition or medical reasons.
Uncircumcised girls are not allowed to serve water or meals. Many women
said that their daughter would not be able to be married uncircumcised.
Most of the women are not aware of the long-term medical and
psychological consequences of FGM. Many girls die because of the
operation. FGM is practiced by Muslims, Christians and Kakeys. To date,
there is no information about FGM and Yezidi and Jewish community in
The major reason for the persistence of this
practice is the lack of education and information among the women
population that is mostly illiterate. In addition, sexual education is
generally not provided to girls and boys by their parents. Youngsters
generally marry without any idea about sexuality.
prepared two awareness films about FGM in close cooperation with local
cinema directors and women's organizations. One film is used to spread
awareness in Iraqi population. A second film called "Handful of Ash"
was produced for Europe in order to create awareness in the
international community. It had its premiere in 2008.
Iraqi awareness film is daily shown to (mostly illiterate) women in
Arbil, Kerkuk, Suleymaniah,
Halabja, Hauraman and Garmyan region by mobile teams in order to
provide information and education. The film shows experts like
physicians - but also an Islamic cleric - who condamn the practice of
FGM. The film serves as a source of information and as an occasion to
get into a discussion with the women at place.After the performance,
workers and nurses of WADI´s mobile teams discuss FGM with the women.
The women are invited to ask questions. Special leaflets are
distributed and the visited villages take part in a follow-up
team learned that in many cases, women are all too willing to
the practice but lack support. Speaking about FGM and their own
suffering, about the pain and agony they experienced and let their
daughters experience, is only a first but important step. It
usually the first time they ever got the chance to speak about it.
organized the first Iraqi conference against FGM in Arbil in February
2006 and succeeded to attract Kurdish Regional Government's (KRG)
interest. The subject will be soon discussed by the Kurdish Regional
Government. In spring 2006, additional mobile teams were set in order
to expand the campaign and fight FGM in Northern Iraq. Until 2006, more
than 4000 women took part in WADI´s campaign against FGM. Supported by
the Austrian Development Agency, the Roselo Foundation and the Iraqi
Civil Society Program, three teams are currently working all over
Kurdistan, informing on the grave physical and psychological injuries
that result from FGM. Moreover, they are about to prepare a broad
scientific study about causes and prevalence of this practice in
WADI’s „STOP FGM in Kurdistan“-campaign
is running well now since spring 2007. A coordination bureau has been
established in Arbil.
WADI - Association for
Crisis Assistance and Development Co-operation
Headquarter: Herborner Str. 62, 60439 Frankfurt/ M, Germany
Tel ++49-69-57002440, Fax: 57002444, Email:
Tel: 061 -7600305