Monday, September 28, 2009

NGO: Unexpected high female genital mutilation rates in Kurdistan

By Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Leiden - Researcher Arvid Vormann of the German NGO WADI working in Iraqi Kurdistan says research shows that female genital mutilation (FGM) of women in Iraqi Kurdistan is higher then they expected. Iraqi Kurds are suspicious about the high rates, but say they want the practice to be dealt with.

72,7% of the women are genitally mutilated in the areas of Arbil, Suleymaniyah and Germiyan and Kirkuk,” Arvid Vormann wrote her blog. “In Arbil governorate the rate is comparatively low (63%), in Suleymaniyah it is as high as 77,9% and in Garmyan it reaches even 81,2%.”

Despite of these high rates, Vormann writes that women have seem to have a great chance to escape Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), then women had some decades ago. “The rate among women younger than 20 years old is 57% whereas the rate among women between 50 and 59 is nearly 85%. In Arbil, even among women above 80 years the rate is “only” 80%, but in Germiyan from 60 years onwards it is 100%.”

Vormann notes that she sees a sharp decline in the mutilation rate of about 20% among women younger than 20 years old in Suleymaniyah and Germiyan “This is indicating a positive trend. In Arbil, this positive trend seems to have taken place earlier. Nowadays, considering these numbers, the rate in Arbil even seems to be on the rise again.”

On Kurdish discussion forums a lot of Kurds are surprised about the high rates and argue that the numbers are too high. “I have never heard from this practice”. For instance, Alan Daudey (28) a Kurdish student from Holland, says that the rates are too high. “This happens in maybe rural regions, but not in the cities. Perhaps they have to exaggerate the numbers a little bit, otherwise nothing happens.”

Swedish sociologist Minoo Alinia notes that the rates are ‘too high off course’. “Unfortunately there are always people who deny it, but there are many other who admit that the problem exists. For example a woman who used to work as a teacher told me in an interview that almost all of the students (females) in her school were exposed to FGM.” But Alinia was hopeful that the practice will fade away. “There is hope because of the fact that it is decreasing even if it is still very high. I have seen also other reports in newspapers that indicate this progress.”

Source: Rudaw