Working with Iranian and Iraqi Kurds

A member from WADI shared a special case on how Iraqi activists are penetrating Iran and pushing for an end to FGM:

“We have a special cross-border situation between Iraq and Iran, whereby on both sides of the border Kurds are affected (in the South the Arabs are also affected, but we don’t work there). It is especially difficult because there are no big donors who will fund projects in Iran. That having been said, Iran would not accept to have internationals working there or even a local NGO connected to internationals. The one positive thing is that Iraqi Kurdish television is very popular in Iran. So Iranian Kurds see our clips against FGM, talk shows etc. This hekoed launch the discussion in Iran before we even begun with cross-border work.

Today we are able to get some cross-border work going. First, we invited Iranian activists and researchers to regional meetings. Since then, there has been an ongoing exchange between the Kurds in Iraq and Iran via conferences and workshops on how to combat FGM. One Iranian researcher was even invited to speak in the Iraqi Kurdish parliament. A psychologist from Iran comes to give trainings in Iraq, in order to teach our social workers about couple therapy for FGM victims. When the Iraqis or the Iranians have developed new material they make it available for use in both countries.

The Iraq-Iran cross-border work is very grassroots. We have not heard of women/girls crossing the border to undergo FGM. This may happen across the regional border towards central Iraq: FGM is only prohibited in Kurdistan, not in the other Iraqi regions. We know that polygamy happens cross-border – because polygamy is prohibited in Kurdistan, men go to central Iraq to have their second wife registered there. Legally, this is a difficult situation because it is officially one country, but laws on women’s protection vary drastically.

 Activists have been pushing for laws to prohibit FGM in Iran and central Iraq, but this is difficult – and in Iran it is even dangerous and can land you in prison. So for the time being we continue to focus on the grassroots approach”

“The Community of Practice on Female Genital Mutilation” is part of the “Building Bridges between Africa and Europe to tackle FGM” project, supported by the “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM”.
The project is coordinated by AIDOS in partnership with GAMS Belgium.

The views expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UNFPA, UNICEF or any other agency or organization.

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