Iraqi Kurdistan prepares to ban female
Erbil-Hewler, Kurdistan region "Iraq", —
Parliament in Iraq's northern autonomous region of
Kurdistan is preparing to outlaw female
circumcision, according to a woman MP and doctor who
has long battled to halt the widespread practice.
"A bill making circumcision illegal will be
presented in parliament over the next few days," Dr
Hala Suheil told AFP, saying it would impose jail
terms and fines on offenders.
UNICEF, the UN children's fund,www.ekurd.net
regards "female genital
mutilation" as "one of the most persistent,
pervasive and silently endured human rights
Kurdistan health minister Zarian Abdel Rahman said
that in the region "60 percent of girls aged four to
fourteen undergo circumcision, despite warnings by
ministers against this grievous practice committed
in the name of religion and hygiene."
Kurdish government prepares to ban female
circumcision (Xetene in Kurdish).
He was speaking on
Friday at a three-day conference on violence towards
women, held in Erbil, capital of the province of the
same name, 350 kilometres (219 miles) north of
Circumcision involves the partial or complete
removal of the female external genitals. It can
cause death through haemorrhaging and later
complications during childbirth.
It also carries risks of infection, urinary tract
problems and mental trauma.
The German non-government group Wadi carried out
research in 201 villages in the three autonomous
provinces and in the predominantly Kurdish Kirkuk
area in September.
It found that 3,502 out of 5,628 women and girls
surveyed had been mutilated -- an average of more
than 62 percent.
The practice, encouraged by some clerics, does not
appear to exist in other parts of Iraq.
"The ministry of religious affairs should tell imams
to speak out against female circumcision in sermons
during Friday prayers so their flocks shun the
practice," Abdel Rahman said.
"The education ministry should also introduce
programmes in schools to encourage girls not to
submit to their parents' wishes in this regard."
While widespread in the African continent,www.ekurd.net
it is not known how
female circumcision was introduced into northern
"This practice began in the region so long ago, and
we have no idea where it comes from. But the
ancients justified it by saying it would preserve a
girl's chastity," said Dr Suheil, adding that no
precise statistics are available.
"Old women circumcise young girls using barber's
razors and even shards of glass, often causing
terrible haemorrhaging and sometimes death," the MP
Sheikh Sayyed Ahmad Abdel Wahab al-Panjawini, imam
of Arbil's Hajj Jamal mosque, said "iIt may be an
old custom, but it has nothing to do with Islam.
"No religious text mentions this practice. It is a
custom that some have introduced to the Muslim way
In a recent article in the Kurdish daily newspaper
Hawlati, the secretary general of the Islamic
Women's Union, Bekhal Abu Bakr, wrote that "female
genital mutilation is not a Muslim practice."
"Many of the problems experienced by women are the
result of erroneous traditions, and Islam is not to
blame," she said.
"Sharia (Islamic law) is a long way from such
and circumcision exists
because some people interpret the Koran in a false
manner," she said, alluding to obligatory male
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