Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Iraqi-Kurdistan: Still an unresolved problem

Although FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan is declining it’s still practised

It was the region of Garmyan in Iraqi-Kurdistan where teams of Wadi first encountered that FGM is a huge problem in Iraqi-Kurdistan. Back then our teams did a small scale study and found out that more than 60% of women and girls they interviewed had undergone mutilation. Shocked by these numbers Wadi started a first large  scale survey:

study shows

Study published in 2010

Since then a lot happened, a Stop FGM Kurdistan Campaign was set up and finally in 2011 the Iraqi-Kurdish Parliament banned FGM and various awareness campaigns helped to lower the number of newly mutilated girls in the region. A latest survey has proved: The number is falling:

“A study by the Heartland Alliance in cooperation with Unicef and the High Council of Women Affairs shows a dramatic decrease in rates of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Northern Iraq when comparing mothers and daughters. Among mothers surveyed 44,8% reported to be cut compared to 10,7% of their daughters. Results also show a direct link between campaigning and decline of rates. Religion remains a major factor among those who continue the procedure on their children.”

Unfortunately few donor organization show readiness to support this successful campaign, although FGM is still prevalent.

“In 2017 our team visited the district, sub-districts and the villages in Garmyan area and held seminars for 1104 beneficiaries both women and men regarding combating FGM, domestic violence and non-violence conflict resolution”

Despite a lack of funding Wadi continuous it’s work on a small scale, particularly in Arbil and Germian region.

Leyla Ahmed, a member of Wadi’s team in Garmyan, recently published an article in the local paper Wishne about the current situation in this area, where it all starts in 2004.

About FGM in Germian

According to research done by Wadi 35% of women in the Garmyan area are mutilated. This statistic is so high even though doctors warn the community about the physical and psychological damages of FGM, and mullahs preach that mutilating girls is not a religious obligation.


Awareness course about FGM in Germian region

Wadi teams in Garmyan worked with 1002 women in 2017, and according to their findings 35% of those women were mutilated.

Layla Ahmed, Wadi Garmyan team member stated that “in 2017 our team visited the district, sub-district and the villages in Garmyan area and held seminars for 1104 beneficiaries both women and men regarding combating FGM, domestic violence and non-violence conflict resolution”. Layla explained that because of their hard work in raising awareness in the community there are 12 villages in Kurdistan which are free of FGM, three of which are in the Garmyan area.

During these seminars there was an emphasis on explaining to women that according to law no.8 of combating domestic violence FGM is illegal in Kurdistan and is a punishable offense. From a health aspect it was also explained that FGM is considered one of the reasons why a woman cannot have or has difficulties to have sexual desire or enjoy sexual relations.


Dr. Ahmed Hasan told Wishe: “Women, in contrast to men, the whole body helps in giving pleasure especially the clitoris, so cutting this part from female body causes the woman a lack of sexual pleasure”.

Mullah Hama Amin, previously told Wishe that mutilation is not a religious obligation, and that ending and reducing female sexual pleasure is not accepted in Islam and is considered a wrongdoing against any gender.

Female genital mutilation is practiced world wide and at high rates in the Middle East  under the name of protecting girls and women’s dignity by reducing their sexual desire.”