Tehran University organized First Conference about Female Genital Mutilation

Tehran University organized First Conference about Female Genital Mutilation

Tehran University organized First Conference about Female Genital Mutilation

Under the title “Razor and Tradition” the Sociology Faculty of Social Sciences at Tehran University organized a conference about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Iran on 11th of July 2015. This conference shed lights on all aspects of FGM in Iran. It was the first time that an official body connected to the government broke the silence about this issue in Iran and most of the official and important newspapers published speakers’ speeches in full details. The psychoanalyst Dr Nazi Akbary, sociologist Dr Ahmad Bokharayee and Rayehe Mozafarian, writer of the book “Razor and Tradition” and campaigner of Stop FGM Iran, spoke at the conference.

Tehran ConferenceThe first speaker Dr Nazi Akbary pointed to the most important psychological effects of circumcision on girls which she had observed in her experience with patients: “PTSD can have an effect on a woman’s life when she constantly has dreams in the different periods of her life repeatedly and she is scared of having sex with her husband too.”

Dr Akbary also mentioned the problem of exclusion if girls are not circumcised: “Mmong my patients I saw a girl from Somalia who had been expelled for failing to do so. Also it was interesting for me that in my research that the men were reluctant to do so but women were more willing to circumcise their girls because they want to guarantee their daughters` future enabling them to choose the best man for marriage.”

Following this lecture, Dr Ahmad Bokharayee explained the relations between “the philosophy of sexual ethics” and “Female Genital Mutilation”. He said: “there is a reason for every phenomenon in each society which it based on personal or social reasons. We should find the hidden layers of FGM and find the answer to the question why FGM is still happening in Iran?”Tehran conf2

He mentioned 10 differences between ethical (moral) and morality (ethics) in his presentation. Therefore, in the society, the morale moved to the ethics with changing a wide range of interests. The starting point for the formation of moral principle was the common response to the basic needs of human beings. But the beginning of the formation of ethics was the variation of human demands that has become more prominent after the formation of communities.

Dr Bokharayee concluded that the patriarchal culture of the community and a set of social and cultural factors were involved in the spread of the tradition of female genital mutilation in Iran.

Rayehe Mozafarian started her presentation with counting 11 seconds and drew the audience’s attention to the fact that every 11 seconds a girl is circumcised in the world. For the operation which damages women’s sexual organ there are three different terms: Female Genital Mutilation, Female Genital Cutting and Female Circumcision. All three terms are valid for extracting the meaning of laws.

Article 706 of the Islamic Penal Code states the elimination of sexual ability and fertility of men and women and the elimination of female or male sexual pleasure is under reported. Article 707 says that full compensation (blood money) is awarded if the ability of intercourse is destroyed. Article 664 of the Penal Code: for cutting or removing each of the both sides of female genitals half compensation (blood money) of the woman must be paid. There is as much blood money for cutting and removing the part of it. There is no difference between virgin and non-virgin, children and adults, healthy and disabled

She continued her presentation with a reference to Islam and Female Circumcision: “Islam does not recommend circumcision of girls. To extract a ruling in Islam referring to 4 sources is necessary: Quran, Sunnah (Prophet Muhammad`s life), Ijmah (means the viewpoints of religious leaders) and analogy (in this case compare male and female circumcision). There is no evidence in all these sources that Islam recommends FGM.

In another part of her speech she asked the government to give all data and information and all statistical studies to UNICEF. There are 29 countries in the list of UNICEF but more than 10 countries do not add in this list yet and most of them are Middle Eastern countries where FGM is happening but because the respective governments do not accept to introduce themselves to UNICEF addition to this list is postponed and on the other hand more girls are more at risk. Iran’s government should accept this problem as common in Iran. Mozafarian concluded her speech by inviting the audiences to join to “Stop FGM Iran” reminding of the slogan of this campaign: “even one victim is too many”.


Confronting Female Genital Mutilation in Iran

Confronting Female Genital Mutilation in Iran

Excerpt of an article originally titled “Confronting Female Genital Mutilation in Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan.”

Iran’s Hormozgan province has the country’s highest rate of FGM.

Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) exists in the Islamic Republic of Iran even while the redoubt of clerical dictatorship is absent from a recent survey of FGM in 29 countries, published by UNICEF. The UN agency examined states in Africa and the Middle East. The UNICEF document did not specify them in full, but named eleven. Four – Djibouti, Egypt. Guinea, and Somalia – are Muslim, and feature “universal” incidence of FGM, or a rate above 90 percent of all women.

In Muslim lands outside Africa, FGM is considered a recent phenomenon. An émigré Iranian cleric, Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari, has condemned the practice, arguing that it is unsupported by the Koran or any other Islamic sacred texts. He has declared, “For the past 1,400 years there was no reflection of this topic in books by Islamic scholars or clerics.”

Kameel Ahmady, an Iranian social anthropologist, has shone a bright light on FGM in Iran, with a new, self-published study. Ahmady returned to Iran after he “worked in Africa for a number of humanitarian relief NGOs and was given the opportunity to observe UN projects to combat FGM in countries like Egypt, Somalia, Kenya and Sudan.”

Stop FGM Middle East says the world must “put Iran on the map of FGM-affected countries.”

In the northwestern and southern provinces of Iran, Ahmady, as noted by the advocacy group Stop FGM Middle East, interviewed 3,000 women and 1,000 men over ten years. The research disclosed widespread incidence of FGM in West Azerbaijan on the Iranian border with Turkey and Iraq, and in Hormozgan on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Repeated inquiries revealed that while FGM is declining, it is still common in some areas. In western Azerbaijan, FGM dropped from 39 percent to a current level of 21 percent. FGM fell less steeply in Hormozgan, where 68 percent said in 2011 that they had undergone genital cutting, but the figure decreased to 60 percent in 2014.

The substantive nature of Ahmady’s work has led Stop FGM Middle East to call for a new international focus on the problem in Iran. The same organization has supported the Iranian investigator Rayeyeh Mozafarian, author of an academic thesis on the social and cultural background of FGM in the Hormozgan community of Qeshm Island.

Rayeyeh Mozafarian has interviewed hundreds of FGM victims in Iran.

For that effort, Rayeyeh Mozafarian interviewed 400 victims of FGM. She published an important book on the atrocious custom, The Razor and Tradition (Tigh O Sonnat) in 2013 – FGM is, in Iran, frequently carried out using razor blades. She has lobbied the UN for action on Iran, but the international body has failed to take notice of the situation in the Islamic Republic.

Stop FGM Middle East reports further that local anti-FGM campaigns have emerged in Iran. In the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, which is a center of FGM, two activists, Elham Hosseini and Osman Mahmoudi, have introduced classes on FGM for women and parents. They are training 50 psychology students to educate women against accepting imposition of FGM, and offer psychotherapy to those who have suffered it. Therapy for FGM is provided for married couples as well as women. Husbands often demand acceptance of FGM from their wives and daughters.

In his work on FGM, Kameel Ahmady learned,

Being male and having a ‘non-traditional’ background in the sense that I lived abroad… my detailed questions about this extremely sensitive topic – the cutting of the most private part of a woman’s body – created resistance and bewilderment. I found that my research was not taken that seriously by some locals, especially the men. Some people, including some of my own relatives, were of the opinion that this subject is not an honorable one for an educated man . . .and the project was deemed not a ‘manly’ job.

Meanwhile, according to Stop FGM Middle East, some Iranian authorities have denounced FGM but the clerical regime has failed to act against it. Finally, the campaigners against cruelty insist, the world must “put Iran on the map of FGM-affected countries.”

Iran cannot be expected to act soon against FGM – especially as its rulers hew to the devious and obstinate course visible in its shadow-play “negotiations” over its nuclear ambitions, and given the repressive habits it applies against internal dissent.

Irfan Al-Alawi is executive director of the London-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation. Stephen Schwartz, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, is executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington, DC.