Fighting female genital mutilation, one Kurdish village at a time
By Patrick Markey
TUTAKAL, Iraq (Reuters) - Amena practiced female genital mutilation in her remote village in Iraqi Kurdistan for so many years that she struggles to recall how many girls passed through her hands.
"I couldn't count them," said the midwife, sitting in a garden in Tutakal, her hair in a black headscarf and her chin marked by a faded traditional blue tattoo.
"Ten children, a hundred children, a thousand children, I just can't count how many."
More than a year after lawmakers in Iraq's self-governed Kurdistan region passed a law banning FGM - also known as female circumcision - activists say the practice still goes on.
Autonomous from Baghdad since 1991, Kurdistan has its own government and enjoys an oil boom that has helped make it one of Iraq's safest areas, enjoying modern services, glitzy hotels and shopping malls unavailable in the rest of the country.
In remote rural areas, however, ancient traditions often rule. Honor killings, where women are murdered to protect the family's honor, still occur, and FGM is widespread, in part because it is supported by some clerics who say it is part of sharia or traditional Islamic law.
This could be changing, however.
In Tutakal, the donation of basic school services and a small classroom by a German-funded non-governmental organization called WADI has helped convince residents to stop the practice. Continued...