Female circumcision is banned in Kurdistan, Iraq
Elena Vnorovscaia / Chişinău / Moldova.ORG / -- There is a new law, adopted to protect women from one of the most brutal and severe traditions, widespread among the local Muslim population - female circumcision, in Iraqi Kurdistan.
For the first time in Iraqi Kurdistan women are protected by a new law against some of the traditions most harmful towards them. Now they say that finally XXI century has come to Kurdistan.
The regional parliament ratified a bill banning female genital mutilation and domestic violence. This is a landmark law in a region that is more steeped in such practices than surrounding countries.
The demanding of dowry payments, forced marriage, arranged marriages for young women to men many years their elder and forcing women into prostitution are also outlawed by the new law. Hopefully this law will work and will start the development of woman rights understanding in these areas.
The new law lays out the penalty for encouraging female genital mutilation as 3 to 6 years imprisonment or a IQD 1 million ($860) fine. Those who carry out the operation will be sentenced to 3 to 5 years or a fine equal to IQD 5 million ($4300). If they are medical practitioners they will be banned from working for three years.
Female circumcision, where the clitoris and hood, and sometimes the labia, are cut away, is particularly commonly in rural areas. A German-Iraqi study conducted in 2007-08 showed more than 77% of female interviewees aged 14 and over in the Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah had undergone the procedure.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report last year that showed there are at least four factors driving the prevalence of genital mutilation: a link to Kurdish identity, a religious imperative, social pressure, and an attempt to control a woman's sexuality.
Nevertheless there are also many issues that are not covered by bill, but it’s still necessary to reflect on them. Payman Abdul-Kareem, a member of the parliamentary committee for women and children’s affairs said – “When a woman is divorced, she does not have anywhere to go and is often mistreated”.
Kurdistan's health minister, Taher Hawrami, said authorities are already distributing posters to promote awareness. But, as he said, that religious leaders can really help authorities to end this terrible practice - "The clerics should take on the main role. People need to have better understanding of religion in order to give up this phenomenon."
Female circumcision is often carried out at home and by people without any medical training. When not done properly the girls, who are often as young as ten and even much more younger, can have lasting damage and in extreme cases die from loss of blood or infection.
They hadn’t had any chance to be healthy and happy as wives in their future lives. It has come time to change that.