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Asuda Press Release on FGM in Kurdistan

The dissemination of Human Rights Watch report on 16 June 2010 on FGM and the reactions by activists and NGOs to the report initiated a controversy about the issue.  Also, in the last couple of days and on 6 July 2010, the Association of Islamic Clerics in Kurdistan issued a “Fatwa” on FGM in which parents [or guardians] of girls were given the choice of conducting FGM to their girls.

Following reactions and pressure on Muslim clerics with respect to the “Fatwa”, the Association of Islamic Cleric in Kurdistan issued a clarification which states “No clear text in Quoran stipulates FGM as a duty or Sunna”, however, in paragraph 4 of the same clarification statement says:

“The summary of the Fatwa of Kurdistan High Commission of Fatwa believes, parents [or guardians] have the choice to conduct or refrain from conducting FGM, this freedom of choice is not absolute, but conditional until it is proved that FGM causes immediate or long term health damage to mutilated girls, then they may not go ahead with FGM”.

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Emergency hotline for female genital mutilation started in EU

With SOS, the FGM Task Force now has a child protection project started, which is unique in Germany and Europe.  It focuses on the concrete protection of girls from a very specific violence: female genital mutilation.

In Germany alone, need up to 50,000 under-age girls are classified as endangered.  Up to 80% of these girls actually are subjected to the mutilation.  To protection, they could not count so far with few exceptions.

The experience of recent years have shown that people who have specific information about planned or have already become committed genital mutilation, often do not know whom they can turn to.  Even authorities and youth respond often uncertain and hesitant when girls at risk must be protected.

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A Message from Iran

(via Stop FGM Kurdistan)

Dear Reader, 

I have a message from Iran for you, written in a simple language, away from the many big words and grand expressions. I know that hearing the name Iran brings to mind images and memories of a different place – where different laws and government exist and people live in a different style.  But different how? 

Well, you may agree with me that there are some restrictions that you feel as soon as you become a part of the everyday life within the Iranian society. You become especially unlucky when an Iranian law applies to you and even more unlucky if you are woman. There is beauty to everyday life in Iran, great food, warm hospitality, and the rich culture and history that multicultural Iran holds. But if you are a professional, activist, writer etc. and you are there to make a difference and have something to say which doesn’t go according to the government’s line or the ruling clergymen – then you would feel those restrictions even more. 

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Study shows: Majority of Kurdish Women in Iraq Victims of Genital Mutilation

Arbil (Iraq) | Berlin: On the occasion of the International Action Day against Female Genital Mutilation, a representative empirical study on Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi-Kurdistan is going to be presented on February 6.

A 40 page report summarizes the results of a one-and-a-half year empirical study conducted by the German relief organization WADI.  The numbers presented in the report are alarming: A vast majority of women in Iraqi-Kurdistan have undergone FGM with some regions reaching a top ratio of more than 80 percent.

The study provides comprehensive evidence on the underlying dynamics of FGM and helps understand, why mothers who themselves experienced the horror of mutilation allow FGM to be practiced on their daughters. A vast majority of women who adhere to the practice believe it to be a religious obligation in Islam. Others refer to tradition and state that  "it has always been like that ".

The study also shows a clear correlation between the level of education and the attitude towards FGM. Still, the FGM rate amongst university graduates is around 30 percent. But it becomes clear that with an increasing social status, women are more likely to question harmful traditions and alleged religious obligations.

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Davos 2010 - an appeal to end FGM now

An appeal to the World Economic Forum to help to end female genital mutilation, within our lifetimes.

Julia Lalla-Maharajh is one of 5 finalists in YouTube Davos shortlist hoping to work with world leaders to end female genital mutilation.  Watch this and if you like it, go vote for it and this effort at www.youtube.com/davos.

Davos is the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland between 27-31 January, 2010.  The meeting brings together top business leaders, international political leaders, and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world today. In 2010, the organizing theme is, "Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild". 

You can find out more at http://www.weforum.org/en/events/AnnualMeeting2010

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Female Genital Mutilation Targeted In Several Countries

Reports of progress in halting, documenting and legally barring Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) come in this week from multiple countries and news sources. 

In Uganda (yes...that Uganda), MP Chris Baryomunsi submitted a bill to imprison practicioners of FGM to lengthy jail terms of 10 years to life. 

The Bill says a person commits aggravated FGM in situations where death occurs as a result of the act or where a victim suffers disability or is infected with the HIV virus.

It defines FGM as the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-therapeutic reasons. [Source: Sunday Monitor]

The bill had been tabled in September, but passed this week with no protest from a single MP.

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Anti-female genital mutilation Bill ready for debate

By Cyprian Musoke

A Bill outlawing female genital mutilation is ready to be presented to the House for the second reading and be passed into law, MPs have been told.  

Addressing a regional parliamentary workshop on the theme “Consolidating political will for child well being” at Imperial Royale Hotel yesterday, the chairperson of the committee on gender, Beatrice Lagada, blamed the practice for the high drop out rates in Universal Primary Education (UPE).

She urged people in communities where the practice is still rampant to report perpetrators and parents who subject their girl-children to genital mutilation. Upon conviction for indulging in the practice, one faces a maximum jail term of 10 years.

The workshop was attended by MPs from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, and the Speaker of the East African legislative assembly. It was organised by the East African community secretariat, Parliament of Uganda and European Parliamentarians for Africa.

“We are done with scrutinising the Bill and are ready to present it for the second reading. I assure you that the will to pass it is there,” Lagada said.

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Women weighed down by culture in Kenya

GARISSA, 16 November 2009 (IRIN) - Armed with a university certificate, Hubbie Hussein Al-Haji returned to her pastoralist community in Garissa, northeastern Kenya, expecting to serve as a veterinary health assistant.

But she was refused the job. "When I came back to Garissa [Northeastern Province capital], I was told you [a woman] cannot treat our animals because you menstruate - it will make our cows perish," she told IRIN.

Al-Haji and a colleague then started a local NGO, WOMANKIND Kenya (WOKIKE) to provide leadership training to women. They also set up a sanctuary for girls at risk of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C).

"Girls are often seen as an object for the pleasure of men," Al-Haji said. In her community, FGM is a highly valued ritual, marking the transition from childhood to womanhood.

At present, the centre is supporting 120 girls aged around six years old because they are at risk of FGM/C from age eight. The girls, most of whom have escaped FGM/C, are enrolled on the recommendation of the government children's department and the community.

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Agencies Unite Against Female Circumcision

By Irene Nabusoba ( New Vision)

THE United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have launched a joint programme to end female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2012.

FGM involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia commonly practiced as a cultural passage to womanhood by some ethnic groups in Uganda.

The practice causes immense pain, bleeding, infection, abscess plus shock, sometimes leading to death.

Speaking during a half-day event to mark the alliance at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday, UNFPA’s country director Janet Jackson said the five-year programme will cost $43.5m (about sh82.7b).

The regional initiative is being implemented in 17 African nations.

“Research shows that there are specific elements that need to be in place to support acceleration of abandonment of FGM. Among them is a supportive environment at national level, community empowerment activities and support by religious leaders,” Jackson said.

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Female Circumcision Still a Vote Winner

By Wambi Michael

KAMPALA, Oct 19 (IPS) - Over three decades ago a 14-year-old girl, her sister and a group of young teenagers from Bukwo headed to the River Amana for a ceremony that would change their lives forever.

Since her childhood, Gertrude Chebet had been told of the day she would become a woman. She was led to believe it would be a great moment of change and it was something to look forward to with much joy.

As she and her sister began that early morning trek, from their village in eastern Uganda, in the cold and through the bushes to the place of initiation, she expected it to be the best day of her life. But she was wrong.  It turned out to be the most harrowing.

"One of the elder women overseeing the circumcision took a sample of our saliva, urine and pubic hair and buried it.  She then ordered us to lie on the ground and after the first cut, I lost consciousness and cannot remember what happened next," she remembers now.

Even after passing out she and the other girls were not allowed to use modern medicine to treat their wounds. Instead she was forced to use cow urine, prescribed by her elders.

Today Chebet is a primary school teacher and campaigns against female circumcision, otherwise known as female genital mutilation.

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