In rural areas of Iraq, female genital mutilation (FGM) may be far more widespread than previously thought. WADI, a German NGO, conducted a study of over 1,500 women in a Kurdish region known as Germian, and found that 60 percent of these women reported having undergone FGM. In the absence of statistics, estimates had ranged between 10 and 40 percent of women in the Kurdish region, reports IRIN News.
Many people, especially in rural areas, continue to believe that female circumcision is required by Islamic law. Senior Kurdish clerics issued a fatwa against the custom in 2002, according to the Christian Science Monitor, but information is slow to reach remote villages, where women who have not undergone FGM are considered promiscuous and unclean. Collecting data on FGM in Iraq has been difficult, as the practice is not openly acknowledged, as in parts of Africa. WADI credits its established relationships with the people of the region for allowing this study to occur. Suheila Hidayat Qadir, a WADI mobile team doctor, told IRIN that “You can’t just go into a village and ask women if they’ve been circumcised…This is a practice that goes on in secret. Nobody talks openly about it.”