Association for Crisis Assistance and Development Co-operation

Hard Debate about Female Genital Mutilation in Kurdish Newspaper

The independent Kurdish Newspaper Hawlati published recently some articles debating Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi-Kurdistan. This debate shows that a taboo was broken and now people do publicly criticize and defend this practice, which was before done secretly. Here are some excerpts of this highly interesting debate.

On August 28th, 2008, Falah Muradkhin, the co-ordinator of Wadi in Iraq, published an article summarizing the various findings of WADI’s research and activities.

He writes in the article titled: “In Iraqi Kurdistan 62% of women female are mutilated”:  

According to WADI’s statistics in 201 villages 3502 of 5628 women and girls in Iraqi Kurdistan were mutilated. Wadi interviewed women in Dohok, Sulaimanyah, Arbil, Garmyan and part of Kirkuk Governorate.

Medically, psychologically and from a human rights’ point of view, FGM is one of the main forms of violence against women. It is true that FGM existed before Islam, but at present FGM is a major problem in most of Islamic societies, a fact that has not been recognized yet. Most Islamic countries are not on the map of regions practising FGM because their governments deny it.

Before WADI started this wide campaign, FGM had not been discussed in Iraqi Kurdistan, thus initiating this campaign meant taking a serious risk. Last year WADI started a media campaign and collected signatures to lobby for a law against FGM. It also organized various Radio and TV programs.

In 2007, WADI started a scientific research about FGM in 198 places in Iraqi Kurdistan. Questionnaires were distributed by 6 mobile female teams. 1836 questionnaires were filled out and are now being analyzed.

This campaign was accepted by the parliament and 68 parliamentarians signed the draft of the law which was supported by WADI. The campaign has a special internet site (www.stopfgmkurdistan.org).

See the whole article in Kurdish

Mr. Muradkhin got support from the General Secretary of the Islamic Women Union Mrs. Bekhal Abu Bakr, who published an article in the next edition of Hawlati, strongly making the point, that FGM is not an Islamic practice. “Islam is against FGM”:

Women problems are mainly the result of bad traditions the religion is not responsible for. The clean law of Sharia of Islam is far from problems like forced marriage and other forms of oppression of women. Problems like female genital mutilation or polygamy mainly exist because some people interpret the quran in a different and false way.

It is a pity that some people do not have enough information about the religion of Islam and as a consequence declare that Islam would not guarantee equal rights for women. But according to our knowledge Islam considers male and female as equals who complete each other.

We also did scientific religious researches about the problem of FGM and we are fully aware of its bad effects. Therefore, we also prepared a draft for a law banning it in Kurdistan and submitted it to the parliament.

See the whole article here in Kurdish [pdf]  

Both articles deeply upset one of the leading Islamic clerics in Northern Iraq, Mr Bawke Hareth. In response he published an article, strongly defending Female Genital Mutilation as an Islamic practice. In this article “Islam is with Circumcision” the cleric rejects even the positions laid down by an Al Azhar University fatwa, banning FGM:

“I was surprised when I read that one of the Islamic sisters mentioned that Islam is opposing FGM and polygamy! I will answer her because her statements are against Islam and against the way we want our society to be.

Our prophet Mohammad (God bless him) said: You need to do the following things: circumcision, cutting your nails and your moustache.

This Hadith is accepted by the majority of Muslims. Once upon a time a non-believer converted to Islam and Muhamad asked him immediately to circumcise himself. We belong to the Abrahamite family and circumcision is approved by Abraham and he was even 80 years old when he circumcised himself.

There is no difference between males and females and both are asked by their God to circumcise and there many articles in Quran prove this.

Also in Hadith number 1261 and 722, you find many evidence that Islam supports circumcision of girls.

The whole article in Kurdish [pdf]

In September Falah Murakhin answered this cleric in another article:

“In Ranya region out of a total of 1733 women 1645 were mutilated. In some areas of Iraqi Kurdistan the rate of FGM is even higher than in some of African countries.”

It is a shame that the rate of FGM in some areas of Iraqi Kurdistan is higher than in African countries and the Kurdish government is not able to react accordingly. Although we published detailed evidence and data about this problem, many officials and people still keep silent. And then we read in Hawlati newspaper the article of cleric Bawke Hareth, who openly calls to continue practicing FGM in Kurdistan. Other Islamic mullahs issued fatwas to show that FGM is not a problem of Islam like the fatwa from Al Azhar University from November 2006 (the newspaper published a copy of this fatwa). The difference between them and Bawki Harth is that he admits openly that FGM is not only connected to Islam but required by it.

This is why we ask the Kurdish parliament and government to react fast. The problem of FGM in Kurdistan is now widely known, the data is published in the international press and most of international NGOs are aware of this problem and it is useless to try to continue hiding it.

From our side, as always we participate in publishing data about this problem because we want everybody to know about it.  Therefore we now publish in this article new data, which our team members collected in Ranya region in 25 secondary girl-schools. Out of 1733 they spoke with, 1645 (!) were mutilated. This number is higher than the rate of FGM in some African countries. But the difference between us and them is that they fight FGM by issuing laws and with support of international organizations.”  

The whole article in Kurdish

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