Stop female genital mutilation says Human Rights Watch

by editor | 17th June 2010 8:25 am

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Human Rights Watch on Wednesday release a report about female genital cutting. The practice, says the report, is widespread in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region and authorities must develop a long-term plan to eradicate it. It is estimated that more than 130 million women worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), a centuries-old practice still common in some countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, western and southern Asia and parts of the Middle East. The report called “They took me and told me nothing”, released by the New York-based rights watchdog underlines that the most common form practiced in Iraqi Kurdistan was the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or prepuce (clitoral hood). Research indicated the practice is widespread in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, the report said. It cited a German-Iraqi study conducted in 2007/08 in which more than 77 percent of female interviewees aged 14 and ??????[1] over in the Kurdish province of Sulaimaniya had undergone the procedure. Often the practice is carried out for cultural or religious reasons, but opponents say it is a brutal form of oppression and potentially life-threatening. Its origins in mainly Sunni Muslim Kurdistan are unclear, Human Rights Watch said. It said there was no data to establish how common the practice might be in the rest of Iraq. Iraqi Kurdistan has enjoyed semi-autonomy since the end of the first Gulf War. According to the report, some girls and women said they were told it is rooted in a belief that anything they touch is haram, or unclean, until they go through the procedure. But for many girls and women in Iraqi Kurdistan, the report said, genital cutting is an unavoidable procedure they undergo sometimes between the ages of three and 12. The report tells the stories of girls who have being taken by their mothers to unlicensed practitioners. HRW said the Kurdish regional government elected in July 2009 had done nothing to eradicate the practice.

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