In Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, female genital mutilation (FGM) is not marginal. On an international level, the existence of FGM in Iraq has been ignored for many years and it has been commonly labeled as an "African disease".
This changed in 2007, when scientific studies revealed that more than 70% of women and girls in the Northern provinces of Kirkuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah were mutilated. It turned out that girls and women in rural areas are much more likely to be affected than those in larger cities and that a lack of education and FGM strongly correlate.
The traditional cutting practice bears dreadful costs for the girls and women. Some bleed to death or die of infections. Most survivors suffer from medical, psychological and social consequences throughout their entire lives. Circumcision violates several of the most fundamental human rights, such as the right to physical integrity and sexual self-determination.
Campaign: Stop FGM in Kurdistan
The reports about high prevalence of FGM resulted in the campaign Stop FGM in Kurdistan. A network of local and international organizations, human rights activists, artists and journalists organizes awareness raising and prevention activities, engages in political lobbying and works with the involved communities. The campaign has created the conditions for an effective struggle against FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan. Breaking a taboo, mutilation of girls is today discussed openly in the media and in the affected communities. After the prohibition of FGM in 2010, our long-term partner WADI convinced a number of villages to declare themselves "FGM free" and helped midwives to stop practicing the cutting.
The Jiyan Foundation supports the Stop FGM in Kurdistan campaign, offers medical and psychological support for survivors and their families and helps to raise public awareness on the dire consequences of this practice.