Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — For the first time in
Iraqi Kurdistan women are protected by a new law
against some of the traditions most harmful towards
On Wednesday the regional parliament ratified a bill
banning female genital mutilation and domestic
violence. This is a landmark law in a region that is
more steeped in such practices than surrounding
Female circumcision, where the clitoris and hood,
and sometimes the labia, are cut away, is
particularly commonly in rural areas. A German-Iraqi
study conducted in 2007/08 showed more than 77
percent of female interviewees aged 14 and over in
the Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah had undergone
The new law lays out the penalty for encouraging
female genital mutilation as 3 to 6 years
imprisonment or a IQD 1 million ($860) fine. Those
who carry out the operation will be sentenced to 3
to 5 years or a fine equal to IQD 5 million ($4300).
If they are medical practitioners they will be
banned from working for three years.
The demanding of dowry payments, forced marriage,
arranged marriages for young women to men many years
their elder and forcing women into prostitution are
also outlawed by the new law.
It is not clear how a law, seeking to stop a
practice, such as genital mutilation, that is not
carried out though official means, will be enforced.
Kurdistan's health minister, Taher Hawrami, said
authorities are distributing posters to promote
awareness, but he said religious leaders should do
more to end the practice.
"The clerics should take on the main role. People
need to have better understanding of religion in
order to give up this phenomenon."