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THE CHANGING PARADIGMS OF FGM/C 2017 Country Report on FGM/C in Iran Authored by: Kameel Ahmady w w w.kameelahmady.com There was this woman who got married at the age of 20. When they found out that she
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THE CHANGING PARADIGMS OF FGM/C 2017 Country Report on FGM/C in Iran Authored by: Kameel Ahmady w w w.kameelahmady.com There was this woman who got married at the age of 20. When they found out that she is not cut, they took her and cut her by force. She CHILDREN FROM QESHAM ISLAND PHOTO BY: F.FARHANG was hurt so bad. People used to say she s shameless and indecent because she hasn t been circumcised. She stayed in bed for a week to recover her strength. Female respondent, 27 years old Hawraman Takht Village- Mariwan Kurdistan province 2 Table of Contents ACRONYMS & ABBREVIATIONS 4 ABSTRACT.1 CHAPTER 1- INTRODUCTION.2 CHAPTER 2- FGM/C IN IRAN: BACKGROUND & ACHIEVEMENTS.4 CHAPTER 3- AN OVERVIEW OF THE IMPACTS OF ANTI-FGM MOVMENT CHAPTER 4- MALE GENITAL MUTILATION.22 CHAPTER 5- CONCLUSION & RECOMMENDATIONSN.24 3 Acronyms & Abbreviations Acknowledgment AFGM BBC ECM FGM/C MGM Mps NGO NHS PMC UN UNICE An -Female Genital Mu la on Bri sh Broadcas ng Corpora on Early Child Marriage Female Genital Mu la on/cu ng Male Genital Mu la on Medical Prac oners Non-Government Organiza on Na onal Health Service Project Management Course United Na ons United Na ons Children s Fund The prepara on and wri ng of this countrywide report faced some challenges. In par cular, it had to be prepared and delivered within a short me frame. The report could not have been researched, compiled and wri en in these circumstances without the dedicated assistance of the professionals I was fortunate to be able to receive advice and assistance. The research brought immense courage for the FGM/C Movement to strive and speak for the FGM/C vic ms on local and global forums. The study enabled us to celebrate FGM/C interna onal Day in Iran consecu vely for two years. It developed a like-minded cadre who ini ated dialogues and opened ways to talk about the issue openly. A great change has been witnessed in a tude of the media towards projec ng the issue of FGM/C. This all happened as a consequence of the efforts we put together to collect the missing pieces. 4 I, along with a number of other like-minded researchers, would like to extend our hands and offer our coopera on to the Government of Iran in suppor ng a na onwide effort to raise awareness, provide access to reach out to communi es involvement and start a dialogue between the relevant stakeholders, to synchronize any ac on p l a n w i t h o u r u n i v e rs a l H u m a n R i g h t s commitments. Throughout researching FGM/C in Iran, numerous people and organiza ons have helped me tremendously in comple ng the study. This study and, in par cular, parts of the fieldwork, were only achievable by fact-finding research, field based training, support and assistance. My Special thanks go to the following that assembled, analyzed, triangulated, and developed a narra ve so that I could present this work in the form of a comprehensive report. I would like to express my deepest apprecia on to all those who provided me the possibility to complete this report. A special gra tude I give to our Consultant Ms. Humaira Naz from Pakistan whose contribu on in s mula ng sugges ons and encouragement helped me to coordinate my project especially in wri ng this report. F u r t h e r m o re I would a l s o l i ke to acknowledge with much apprecia on the crucial role of the staff of who gave the permission to use all required equipment and the necessary materials to complete the task, Special thanks go to Feriba Almasi for her up most assistance in wri ng this report and my gra tude goes to my fieldwork team members in provinces of Hurmozgan, Kermanshah, Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan, Farkhondeh Khangah, Chiman Rehmani, Haideh Ghobadi, Parvin Ferhang, Ali Bastani and Helala Abrahimi also special thanks to, Nick Petal, Sara Gunger who help me to assemble the parts and gave sugges on about the task as well as inves ng their effort in edi ng, part of transla on also I thank Pedram Varshoei for lay ou ng and designing of the report. Kameel Ahmady 6 February, Interna onal Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mu la on 5 ABSTRACT Female Genital Mu la on/cu ng (FGM/C) is embedded in the social fabric of Iranian culture within some areas of three western and one southern province. Due to the lack of interest by the government officials, Iranian public is largely ignorant about the subject. Researching FGM/C has been a part of the awareness raising work since 2007 and possibly at earlier mes. The work first came to prominence with shoo ng a film in 2015, pilot project and later through a comprehensive research published in 2015, the Anthologist and researcher Kameel Ahmady with a help of fieldwork team have surveyed 3000 women and 1000 men in Iran over a six-year long course. The research showed that FGM/C is prac ced mostly by Sunni minori es in West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah and Hormozgan provinces. Repeated surveys indica ng reliability of the gathered data in the same provinces show that the prac ce is in decline, yet s ll highly prevalent in some areas. The villages picked as pilot for training showed a great improvement and sharp decline of FGM/C while other highlighted villages s ll show a declining trend but with a slower pace. The purpose of this report is to analyze the impact of awareness rising, eradicate or reduce FGM/C rates in West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah and Hormozgan provinces in Iran as well as up to date and overall descrip on of FGM/C prac ce. This report presents up-to-date informa on on FGM/C in Iran a er the pilot interven ons and the interna onal premier of a research study A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mu la on/cu ng (FGM/C) in Iran',' In the name of Tradi on'' conducted by Kameel Ahmady in 4 geographical areas, West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and Hormozgan. 6 LOCAL WEMON FROM BENDER CHAREK HORMOZGAN PROVINCE PHOTO BY: KAMEEL AHMADY _Female_Genital_Mutilation_In_Ira Introduction Female Genital Mu la on/cu ng (FGM/C) is an ancient ritual which violates essen al aspects of women s and children s sexual rights. It prevails in socie es because of certain beliefs, norms, and a tudes, poli cal and economic systems. This chapter shows that FGM/C is deeply rooted in the tradi ons of society. Its prevalence in different socie es is based on religious or conven onal beliefs and customs and has direct rela ons with poli cal and economical systems of these socie es. Poverty, illiteracy, gender inequali es and healthcare shortage for fy this tradi on. This prac ce, a part from viola ons of women s and children s sexual rights will greatly he goal of this report is to provide detailed informa on on the impact of FGM/C abandonment interven ons. While there was some data available on FGM/C in Iran from student university thesis books, and number of ar cles, it was limited in scope. For the first me, A Comprehensive R e s e a r c h S t u d y o n F e m a l e G e n i t a l Mu la on/cu ng (FGM/C) in Iran, '' In the name of Tradi on'' through its interven ons and research gave a complete overview of the prevalence of FGM/C in a country-wide scale with a focus on the most FGM/C-affected areas in three western provinces and one province in the South. Being not a ma er of few months, it took the research team a decade to fully iden fy the prevalence of the prac ce and to chalk out comba ng strategies. affects enjoyable sexual rela onship among women, causes dis-sa sfac on with marital life between couples, increases the rates of divorce a n d s o m e m e s c re ate h e ath a n d b i r t h complica ons. Mozafarian, R Blazor and tradition, Nakoja publication / Karimi, F Tragedy of the Body, Tehran, Roshangaran and women study publishing. see also Women s Health Care, Related factors of female genital mutilation in Ravansar (Iran), 2012, available from LOCAL WOMEN, HAWRAMAN, KURDISTAN PROVINCE PHOTO BY: HAIDEH GHOBADI 7 This report presents the most up-to-date on the ground condi on of FGM/C since the last study ended in 2015 which now been published as book in English and Farsi. The report is an outcome of a series of opera on levels, scanning, mapping, field interviews with mul ple recourses (na ves, local informants and public figures) in a four-month me The report aims to measure the reduc on rate in FGM/C in parts of Iran par cularly targeted the districts of West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and Hormozgan. In the men oned regions like elsewhere in Iran, men generally are regarded as dominant actors and most women are seen as dependent on them. This perceived dominance is systema c and endemic. It is reflected through the norma ve values and tradi ons and endorsed by the beneficiary social ins tu ons. Under these circumstances, women s struggle is especially hard. phase. In the last research study some various missions and pilot programs were carried out to examine the impact of training locals about the nega ve role of FGM/C. A number of villages in each of the four provinces were chosen and revisited to measure the progress of previous interven ons. The purpose of Ac on against Female Genital Mu la on/cu ng in Iran was to mobilize local communi es to advocate for the rights of girls and women with a focus on stopping the prac ce of FGM/C as well as lobbying with local and na onal government to ban FGM/C by law and include an -FGM/C ar cles as part of the new FOUR TYPES OF FGM/C (UNICEF,2005) family planning law in Iran %D9%86%D8%A7%D9%85- %D8%B3%D9%86%D8%AA/ 8 FGM/C in Iran: Background & Achievements The above men oned FGM/C research and campaign in Iran started with support of the Bri sh-iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady in Ahmady, was born and raised in Iranian Kurdistan and moved to the UK in his earlier age studied anthropology. On his return, he found out about the existence of FGM/C in Iran and then in his immediate family. Prior to his return, he had been working in Africa for a number of humanitarian relief NGOs where he observed various efforts and projects to combat FGM/C administered by the United Na ons and UNICEF. This news was shocking as Iran un l now was not among the FGM/C prac cing countries list and s ll not officially recognized as one either by the Iranian government or the UN or UNICEF. First, a number of young female professionals joined the campaign, and soon a er, several women s NGOs from different regions of Iran joined in. Documentary films and wri en materials/ar cles were produced which helped to spread the knowledge on FGM/C on the na onal and, to some extent, interna onal levels through. an -FGM/C networks and universi es. Some useful and suppor ve mee ngs were held with the Iranian Social Services (Behzis ) and the Na onal Health Ministry (Vezaret-e Behdasht). Subsequently, more young volunteers, both male and female teamed up with the campaign. For that purpose a research study was designed to iden fy the prevalence of FGM/C in Iran and inves gated the role of diverse contribu ng factors. In 2005, the field study began and at the same me as going through neighboring regions and data collec on, a documentary was made out of the interviews and related footages. The first and only (publicly available) documentary; In the name of tradi on about FGM in Iran was filmed by Kameel Ahmady while doing fieldwork in the Kurdish villages and neighborhoods of Mahabad, some villages of the nearby Kurdistan province and regions of Hawraman in Kermanshah province as well as in Hormozgan province in South of Iran (Ahmady 2006). The film recently broadcasted by the Bri sh Broadcas ng Corpora on (BBC) and shown at 2008 London film fes val. This anthropological documentary contains recorded footages and interviews from the regions and villages of Kermanshah and Hormozgan province and its islands (e.g. Qesham, Hormozgan and Kish). As well as interviewing local women and women circumcisers (Bibis/ professional cu ers), the documentary records the opinions of local men, medical staff, doctors, and clerics 09 WEDDING, SELEKH VILLAGE, QESHAM ISLAND PHOTO BY: SH. TELENDE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rid4fnkf7oe&feature=youtube A comprehensive study was undertaken to inves gate, explore, and analyses the existence of Female Genital Mu la on/cu ng (FGM/C) in Iran. The me span of this study began in 2005 and ended in The aim of this study was to provide in-depth data on FGM/C in Iran and at the same me, represen ng the building blocks for a comprehensive program to combat FGM/C in Iran and bringing this issue into the world s agenda. Alongside with the hardships and limita ons that the FGM/C study faced during the ac ve research work (2005 to 2014), it also caused sparkles for the very new study on Early Child Marriage in Iran. ECM study, star ng right a er FGM/C research was thought of during the field missions where in some regions FGM/C was paving the way for ECM and easing the two harmful tradi onal prac ces to have a direct correla on. The methodological approach adopted by FGM/C study was primarily par cipatory due to the sensi vity of the subject ma er. Most parts of this research had come to a stop by the end of Despite this apparent setback, much has been achieved over a decade of studying the subject of FGM/C in Iran. It included travelling thousands of kilometers and interviewing over 3,000 women and 1,000 men from various areas and social classes including key role players, community leaders, clerics and r e l i g i o u s l e a d e r s i n o r d e r t o c o m p i l e comprehensive data about the FGM/C prac ce in Iran. The findings demonstrate that FGM/C in some selected villages is widespread among women and girls (around 60% in some villages of Qeshm Island in Southern province of Hormozgan and with lesser degree in the villages of the three western provinces of Iran). Within these provinces, however, FGM/C was not prac ced in the northern parts of West Azerbaijan where people are Turkish Azeri and Kurmanji Kurdish speakers, nor in the Southern parts of Kermanshah and Northern parts of Hormozgan. This research study has gained global recogni on and was inaugurated by the Guardian and BBC by June 4th, 2015 when it was lunched. Interna onal Media, and the United Na ons picked up the study in order to give awareness to interna onal communi es. Soon a er its inaugura on, the aforemen oned study got the United Na on s (UN) pla orm to be discussed at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 19th 2015 at a session on elimina ng FGM/C by Kameel Ahmady. In addi on to that, Reuters also published the analysis of the research and considered it as one of the rare contribu ons in the history of Iran. The same author also published a book in Farsi on the same topic which was well received by the people in Iran as well as successful book lunches in Tehran's Na onal Library and book tour as well as in FGM/C affected provinces and other major ci es. ran_women BOOK LUNCH AND FGM CONFERNCE AT UN PHOTO BY: TOBE LEVIN 10 During the study period, a pilot project s was also launched based on the findings of the research started in 2007 in program areas. That pilot interven ons were aimed to reduce the prevalence of FGM/C in the Persian and Arab regions in the southern part and the Kurdish region in the West. The project was based on the assump on that certain defined low-profile interven ons can bring about a grassroots abandonment of the prac ce by the community itself, as opposed to forced elimina ons from above and outside of the community. The study went forward with the approach which was grounded in an Iranian tradi ons and culture. The team adopted a holis c, culturally sensi ve, par cipa ve approach beached on a firm founda on of Human Rights. The project interven ons were divided into two categories; one category was focusing on community. The interven ons were specifically designed to find ways of preven ng the prac ce of FGM/C. For this purpose, it was impera ve to adopt indirect approaches because FGM/C was a ritual engraved in the souls of the local people and any direct a empts to erase the prac ce could be proved lethal for the project management and staff. The second category was based on advocacy and networking which were mainly based on provoking local resources to work together for the same cause. With limited resources, two local Mobile teams comprised of one social worker, one psychologist, and one nurse was formed. The project mobile teams have been trained in a way that could do maximum field work by their own through engagement of local staff for be er coverage. The members started to map their own areas and work independently by using social events as a poten al pla orm i.e. wedding and funeral ceremonies. The basic purpose of this strategy was to have be er and greater access to women in the community. The work of mobile discovered that female Genital Mu la on/cu ng is widespread in some villages whiten four men oned provinces. 11 The Role of Iranian Government In Iran, FGM/C is not a public topic and not very common to discuss. In most cases, official representa ves, na onalist individuals or groups from the Shiite religious community simply lack the interest to address FGM/C phenomenon as they feel it s a Sunni prac ce and should not concern or get them involved. The four men oned provinces with the existence of FGM/C also have a history of other types of violence against women such as women burning themselves (or other types of suicide) child marriage, forced marriage, polygamy and a number of honor killing cases. For the Iranian government, FGM/C is a Sunni prac ced issue, and that is the reason that Central Shiite dominated Government does not make any official a empts to end FGM/C, therefore, lacks trust of the Sunni popula on. Furthermore, by far the issue of FGM/C has not drawn the a en on of the government prominent ministries or origina ons to itself. FGM/C is an unfamiliar issue for public ins tu ons such as Health Services, Social Services, universi es and the public as a whole, In spite of the fact that the current governments of President Rouhani have paid more a en on to social affairs and family orientated issues and taking some social problems more into account, even listened to outcry of social ac vi es and researchers. The issue was raised with the vice president of Iran in the cabinet of Hassan Rouhani in the sec on of Women and Family Affairs as well as officials whiten the jus ce ministry, Na onal Health Services Officials, Social Services and number of MPs as well as Health and Social Commissions whiten the parliaments. A joined mee ng between officials from the government, NHS, social services, jus ce ministry, was promised but it never metalized. Due to the lack of support from government and even security concerns, besides from a number of MA thesis which later on published as a books along with a number of medical ar cles, no serious a n d c o u n t r y - s i z e o r c o m p r e h e n s i v e researches/studies have been conducted to inves gate FGM/C in Iran. Regarding the same reasons, there is no public engagement project for the effected regions ever been funded or allowed, hereby the possibility of running some sort of pilot project programs to find out the exact prevalence of FGM/C and measure the impact of educa on and training on figh ng against FGM/C is missing. Aliverdinia, A. & Pridemore, W. A Women's fatalistic suicide in Iran: a partial test of Durkheim in an Islamic Republic. Violence against women. Keddie, N. R Women in Iran since Social research, If we realize it s harmful for our daughters, we surely don t do circumcision. They told us not to do it but didn t say why, no one talked about its harms and so we still do it. We just cut a scar, in the past they were cutting so deep but we only make a scratch. PHOTO BY: STEPHANIE SINCLAIR Female respondent-goori village Hormozgan province 12 An Overview of the Impact of Anti FGM Movement VILLAGE OF HAWRAMAN TEKHET, KURDISTAN PROVINCE PHOTO BY: KAMEE
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