Monday, November 29, 2010

Violence against women in Iraq

I've known about the violence against women in Iraq, but I did not realize so much of it is concentrated in Kurdistan. I always perceived the Kurds to be more progressive than the rest of Iraq because they've had an autonomous government supported by the US since 1992. But this year I've read a few articles about honor killings in Kurdistan, and after reading recent comments by Mister Ghost, I've read a few articles about FGM in Kurdistan. Thank you MG for discussing honor killings and FGM in Kurdistan.

In 2009, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported about FGM in Kurdistan for the first time. UNICEF/Arbil followed. Shortly before, WADI had published the first findings from a comprehensive study by the association, indicating that FGM is prevalent in almost all parts of Iraqi Kurdistan. This study, published in 2010, also shows that FGM is equally widespread in towns and in the countryside. Human Rights Watch is expected to publish their own survey soon, confirming the results found by WADI.

Today, female genital mutilation in Kurdistan is internationally recognized beyond dispute. All future reports about FGM worldwide will also have to include Kurdistan. Maps of the FGM-affected regions are currently being revised. Those who still call FGM an “African problem” are corrected by other, better-informed. This recognition has become possible thanks to the campaign.

Read more: Stop FGM in Kurdistan. It's good to see that UNICEF has been part of the effort to stop FGM in Kurdistan. In March I asked "Why aren't more countries in the middle east (especially the oil rich nations) contributing to UNICEF?"

I'm glad that Kurdistan's government is allowing open discussion of these issues and is attempting to combat gender-based violence against women.

As Kurdistan is fast progressing, becoming democratized and westernized, it faces serious difficulties with its conservative culture that has subjected women to painful and deadly rituals including honor killing. Barham Salih, prime minister of Kurdistan, promised on Thursday to put the issue of women first in his government’s policies and eliminate violence against women, who constitute more than half of the Kurdish society.

Perhaps these changes in Kurdistan have been made possible by American influence. If so, I hope the positive influence continues, and not just in Kurdistan. With American help and encouragement, Iraq can become a better country.

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