Talking to circumcisers in Iran: Kind women, violent tradition

Talking to circumcisers in Iran: Kind women, violent tradition

Talking to circumcisers in Iran: Kind women, violent tradition

By Rayehe Mozafarian

More than 7000 communities across Africa are working to abandon FGM. But there are some other countries in the Middle East and Asia where FGM is also common as a tradition. Despite the efforts of some organizations in the Middle East and Asia mutual cooperation between the respective governments and international organizations is difficult in some countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and etc.

Daye1 KopieFGM is tradition and culture which is still continued by women themselves. Although FGM is also men’s demand it can only be kept alive if women are complicit. There are no reports that FGM is done by doctors, educated nurses or midwives in Iran. The studies show that girls are mostly mutilated by native women.

Local surgeon women who do this operation and have learned it hereditary are known as Daye. Most of them are old women who learned it from their mothers or grandmothers. In modern times one thing is particularly important to note that the process of becoming and being Daye still continues. “Becoming Daye” can be defined as the process in which a woman with her own desire, social craving, illness and death of a former Daye or etc. accepts responsibility for the mutilation of girls and after a while the others will know her as Daye. There will by Dayes for at least another 40 years as in some villages, young Dayes still accept this responsibility.

Daye with several other women (in most cases the mother) as an assistant or helper circumcise the girls. For reducing injuries, the assistant holds the girl’s hand and feet strongly to prevent additional movements. In some cases, it has been reported that FGM is done by the closest person for instance the mother, grandmother or aunts.Daye2 Kopie

FGM is usually done with a razor and without anesthesia medicine. It is rare that they use other kinds of sharp instrument. These women have different approaches to disinfect the place of cut. They often use Betadine, but in places where accessory to disinfection is difficult they use ashes of fire or cloths, natural soil and the smoke of turpentine.

In my travels to different parts of south, I visited various villages to find Daye and inquire about FGM. It can be estimated that there is at least one Daye in each village and in some can be found more.

I asked a Daye: “Why did you circumcise your granddaughter?” her face was broken and aging, laughed and said: “We have mercy, they cry and I can do the operation”. It was the points of view which should be corrected. In fact, I need to find the root of their passion for doing FGM which was completely different with my experience. Barbarity and cruelty were not a good reason.

Daye3 KopieMost people who have never seen these women think of them as butchers, violent, cruel and heartless but for me that I am in search of “why the continuation of FGM” for many years – and the presence of a Daye is one of the fundamental factors – the image of these women is different. Before I was so involved in the issue of FGM, I was surprised by the cruelty of these women. This image had changed when I traveled and talked to them myself. Their laughter, their hospitality, their warm greeting, shaking hands and kissing on their hands, all of them had no signs of cruelty and violence. They were deprived of the best education and facilities like all other disadvantages areas. But they would like to learn and continue their firm beliefs and circumcise the girls to practice and respect their religious tradition.

While most researchers believe that female genital mutilation is not rooted in Islam, people in areas where circumcision is carried out do so according to the Hadith of the Prophet and the Imams of the Shafi’i School to show thier commitment to religion. Although there is no compelling reason to do circumcision in Islam on girls.

DAye4 KopieWhat’s the solution?

4 steps to prevent the continuation of FGM must be considered. 4 social groups will be involved to improve their awareness.

  1. Stop the process of becoming a Daye

One of the important factors in development of each country is to reduce maternal mortality. This index is a good measure to show the extension of accessibility and availability of facilities, especially for pregnant women. So each country try to develop its potential to show its development such as access to health centers, facilitate transport and routes, especially in rural areas (rural network), emergency medical services, the cost of health care, women’s literacy status, etc.

In the eighties and nineties, the Ministry of Health and Medical Sciences decided to work together to improve the health of pregnant mothers and also promote the development of Iran. Then they start to find and identify local midwives in each villages and stop them assisting deliveries at home. These midwives were forced to sign a strong commitment to withdraw from their responsibilities. The project was very successful. The village can be found below where delivery takes place at home. This story can be repeated in the same situation for eliminating FGM in Iran. If the government wants, they can find the Daye, get them more right information then stop them to continue their jobs. Because more nurses who are active in FGM they worked as maternal health care.

  1. Improving the knowledge of women:

Another important aspect in reducing the prevalence of FGM is informing the women of the communities. Women’s literacy rates are not high in these areas so it is necessary to organize rural educational workshop and inform them of the dangers of FGM. Very good examples of these activities for the prevention of FGM are organized in Iraqi Kurdistan since more than 10 years ago with the participation of government and non-governmental organizations. Women gather together in each village, they watch an educational film, talk about their experiences and their sexual health issues and finally the session ends with the presentation of gifts. This session does not mean that the activists leave areas forever, after informing women the prevention process will be monitored.

  1. Informing religious leaders

Another social group who have an impact on the eradication of FGM are the Mullahs and religious leaders. The importance of this segment of society is due to its dominance on the traditions and religious traditions, Hadith and Quran and more importantly they have close relations with the men of the community. These religious leaders can make men aware of the dangers of FGM and persuade them to discontinue FGM with their religious messages.

  1. Doctors, midwives and nurses:

Experience has shown that residents of deprived areas share their physical health problems with the doctors and trust them to talk about everything. So the doctors explain about the danger of FGM and sexual hygiene. Because the doctors are being sent from different regions and FGM is underground, it is necessary to inform nursing and medical students.

WASTED YOUTH; Children’s Rights in Iran

WASTED YOUTH; Children’s Rights in Iran

download the complete report here (pdf, word) to find the resources:


Iran is a young country, with more than 28 million inhabitants under the age of 18 in 2011. However, the vast potential of this young, bright population is largely being squandered as a result of poor education policies, discriminatory legislation and insufficient child protections. Iran’s young people face a myriad of major challenges to their development, and it is essential that government and civil society work more closely together to develop long-term solutions.

Over the course of this report, we will engage with three primary clusters of rights taken from the core reporting clusters of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. These core reporting clusters include the right of children to be protected from violence, the right to education, and the right to health. Through an exploration of these three clusters, we hope to illustrate a number of the key obstacles to the happiness and full development of Iran’s young people.

This report will provide an overview of the current landscape around children’s rights in Iran and the challenges facing activists, advocates and children’s rights organisations as they work to improve the situation of young people in the country today. It will achieve this through an analysis of the internationally recognised legal frameworks that guarantee the rights of minors, the national legislation that exists to support these objectives, and a brief overview of a number of areas in which Iran is in violation of internationally recognised norms.

The report will also highlight the specific needs of Iranian children’s rights activists and organisations through a series of interviews with leading figures in the field and an analysis of a number of digital initiatives that have been established to raise awareness and mobilise the public around children’s rightsrelated issues. We will then outline a series of recommendations for the Iranian government, the activist community, and the international community which we hope will prove valuable in the development of future policy in the field of children’s rights, and maximise the opportunities available to Iran’s young people in the coming decades


At the same time as underaged labour deprives children of bright futures, the scourge of child marriage locks many young girls and boys into a troubled present, vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse, and poor health. Additional threats to young girls’ reproductive health arise from the persistence of the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) among a number of marginal communities, constituting a terrible violation of young girls’ human rights, and a real danger to their lives.

In the face of all these challenges, however, civil society is mobilising itself. Groups are being set up in urban and rural communities to provide schoolbooks and new facilities for economically deprived children. Other activists are developing campaigns about the negative impacts of child marriage and FGM, and are working with local community leaders to push back against these practices. But far more support is needed, both from Iranian authorities and the international community.

By speaking with activists on the ground and assessing a number of the initiatives they have developed in digital spaces, we aim to help provide some direction for Iranian and international organisations as they develop capacity building initiatives to support the great work being done by civil society organisations in Iran.

‘Stop FGM in Iran’ is a campaign aiming to eradicate the practice of FGM in Iran by educating the public about its disastrous effects upon girls’ and women’s physical and mental health. The website is aimed at providing information to the general public, and showcasing the organisation’s work to potential donors and supporters.

The website contains a variety of information about the practice of FGM, as well as information about the organisation’s events and seminars, stories from victims of FGM, and materials to draw public attention to the issue.

The campaigners argue that more needs to be done in order to completely eradicate the practice of FGM in Iran, through raising public awareness about the negative health impacts and providing government officials with information about its prevalence and practice. Much of the organisation’s own awareness-raising work is achieved through conducting seminars in the four worst affected provinces, and through engaging in face-to-face discussions with local people. The group also carries out documentation work of instances of FGM, which is then integrated into the group’s advocacy and public awareness initiatives.

The site is well-structured, and is well-populated with diverse content ranging from emotive stories to statistical analyses of FGM in Iran. However, a weakness of the site arises in the seemingly low levels of user engagement with most content. Similarly, the group’s Facebook community is only partially engaged with the group’s content. Although many posts manage to inspire a handful of shares, the number of discussions arising from the content appears to be minimal. Additionally, the campaign lacks any clear calls to

action that could serve to mobilise its not inconsiderable following to engage in actions to support the campaign’s objectives.

The campaign shares a Telegram channel with the Stop Early Marriage in Iran campaign. This channel shares website content from each of the two campaigns it features, alongside relevant news articles, images, and documentation.

what did Iranian Activists do during these years against FGM?

what did Iranian Activists do during these years against FGM?

FGM in Iran

Specific report of Stop FGM in Iran

This introduction sets out the context of FGM in the Islamic Republic of Iran and is included to enable a comparison to be drawn between the Indonesian FGM landscape and that in Iran.

In Iran, women who undergo FGM – often called Khatne or Sonat – primarily undergo Type I or rarely Type II FGM. Some local reports show that in the Khuzestan province, maybe, infibulation is performed (the activists are not sure). The type varies from one region to the next. While in some villages in Kermanshah and Kurdistan women believe that some small amount of bleeding from a cut is necessary, in other areas such as Hormozgan the genitals may be more extensively cut.[i] The vast majority of FGM procedures are carried out by traditional local female circumcisers, including Roma women passing through the villages, midwives sometimes known as dayeh or Bibis depending on the region, and family members (older women who are well respected in the villages).[ii] Generally it is a girl’s mother, grandmother, or other female relative that decides whether she will undergo FGM.[iii]


FGM is typically performed in the home. The clitoris is cut with a knife or razor blade and then ash, alcohol or local medicines (like Sorkhou) is used to clean and close the wound. In some areas, there is a trend toward medicalization where circumcisers use Betadine and bandages in an attempt to make the procedure more hygienic.[iv] FGM is typically performed when girls are very young and likely to forget the pain at

40 days or older, though the age varies depending on the region. In other areas girls range from ages three to six[v], and in some cases older girls undergo the procedure before marriage.[vi]  In Bandar Kong, a port city where some studies found that up to 70 percent of the women have undergone FGM (This study was about more than 12 years ago).[vii]

The practice of FGM has primarily been concentrated among the Shafi’i Kurds and Sunni minority of Iran primarily in rural areas such as Kurdestan, Hormozgan, Western Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, Lorestan and a handful of other regions.[viii] Hormozgan has the highest prevalence of FGM at over 60 percent.[ix] In West Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, and Kurdistan the rates range from 15 to 35 percent.[x] Kameel Ahmady, who recently published a study on FGM in Iran, found there was between an 8 to 15 percent decline in the rate of FGM between 2010 and 2014 in the provinces of Hormozgan, Western Azerbaijan, Kermanshah and Kurdistan.[xi] Interviews showed that 38% of women and men aged 15-49 still support the practice of FGM because of religion, tradition and culture.[xii] Another study which was written by Stop FGM Iran found that nearly half of respondents wanted their daughters to undergo FGM in the future.[xiii] Interestingly, more than half of respondents believed a legal ban on FGM would be effective to prevent it.[xiv]


A recent study shows that the rate of FGM has declined over the past ten years across Iran. In Piranshahr, West Azerbaijan, less than 10 percent of women and girls ages 15-29 have undergone FGM, compared to 43 percent of women ages 30-49.[xv] In Javanrood, Kermanshah, only about 6 percent of women and girls ages 15-29 have undergone FGM, compared to 41 percent of women ages 30-49.[xvi] FGM among women and girls aged 15 to 29 is 30 percent lower than the rate among women aged 30 to 49, and is lower than 8 percent among girls under 10 years old.[xvii]


FGM continues to be practiced in Iran for various reasons. Women are likely to have their daughters undergo FGM in order to improve their chances of marriage. FGM is viewed as a way to ensure the chastity of a young girl, reduce sexual desire, and keep her “pure” for her future husband. Girls who have undergone FGM may be viewed as more desirable than those who have not because of the high value placed on female virginity in Iranian and Islamic culture.[xviii] Some believe after birth clitorises become big and ugly, and cutting makes them more attractive, clean, and beautiful.[xix] Rural Kurds who are followers of “Shafi’i faith believe that a woman’s sexual desire is harnessed after being cut and whatever she does subsequently become halal, or acceptable to Islam.”[xx] In some regions, the food cooked by women who have not undergone FGM is not considered to be halal, and thus may not be eaten by others. In Bandar Kong, some believe “that women are evil creatures who can only be saved from the reach of the devil by being circumcised.”[xxi] For traditional circumcisors, their compensation for performing FGM may be their only source of income and therefore an incentive to continue the practice.[xxii]


“There is much debate on the issue and many Muslim scholars have provided evidence both for and against FGM.”[xxiii] Four Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence – Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali, and Shafi’i – FGM is either preferred or considered obligatory.[xxiv] Some Supreme religious leaders have spoken out in support of the practice. They generally do not characterize it as mandatory in Islam, but do recommend it.[xxv] One Hadith in particular is frequently relied on. In this Hadith, “when Prophet Mohammad was migrating, a woman named Umma Habib who circumcised women came to the Prophet. The Prophet asked her whether she still did what she had been doing? She replied, yes, oh God’s Messenger unless you order me to stop. The Prophet replied: ‘No, it is permissible (halal). Just be careful not to cut deep. A little and that make the woman’s skin shining and smooth and dearer to her husband.”[xxvi]


FGM in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a majority Shi’a country, has lately been receiving more attention globally as a women’s rights issue. In 2014, Iran began to be recognized among the global list of countries in which FGM is present.[xxvii] But is not added in the list of UNICEF officially. For the first time Rayehe Mozafarian open special campaign to improving knowledge and by opening this campaign “stop FGM Iran”, all the efforts and field working are updating in the site and all information publish by using media. Then in the site of this campaign all news and recent activities publish in two languages, Persian and English.


The Law


While there is no specific anti-FGM law in Iran, the Islamic Penal Code prohibits bodily mutilation and can be used to combat FGM.


  • Article 664 of the Islamic Penal Code states “cutting or removing each of the two sides of the female genitalia leads to diya (compensation)[1] equal to half of the full amount of diya for a woman’s life.”[xxviii]
  • Article 386 criminalizes mutilation of the body. If the crime was intentional, it would be punished according to the retaliation (Qisas) law – the perpetrator shall be given a sentence that is equal to the crime committed.[xxix] If the crime was unintentional, the penalty may be either Diya (monetary compensation or blood money) as prescribed by Islamic law for that particular crime, or Ta’zir (where Islamic law does not prescribe a punishment for a particular crime, the punishment is left to the discretion of the judge).[xxx]
  • Article 706 makes it a crime to eliminate the sexual ability of a man or woman. Article 707 sets the penalty for that crime as full compensation (Diya or blood money).[xxxi]


Under Islamic law in Iran, girls reach the age of maturity at 9 years.[xxxii] A father or grandfather may appoint a guardian for their children in the event they may die.[xxxiii] In the event a child does not have a father, paternal grandfather, or guardian appointed by them, the court will appoint a representative to act on behalf of the child.[xxxiv] Any complaint brought on behalf of the child would have to be filed by the child’s guardian or court appointed representative.[xxxv] Since a parent or guardian would not file a complaint against themselves for FGM, the girl would have to wait until she reaches the age of maturity to file a complaint, and this would take tremendous courage to file a complaint against her family members.[xxxvi]


For general protections of their human rights, girls can also look to Articles 10, 20, and 21 of the Constitution (general protection of women’s rights); the Charter of Women’s Rights and Responsibilities (rights to life, physical integrity, protection against victimization, right to mental and physical health, and protection against family violence); and the Law on the Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents (criminalization of child abuse).[xxxvii]


Rayehe Mozafarian, for the first time wrote specific article about FGM and disability and mention these two subjects together and some articles which support these two subjects. Rayehe Mozafarian and Kameel Ahmady have also suggested that FGM may be characterized as a disability under the Iranian Protection Law for People with Disabilities, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.[xxxviii] According to Mozafarian:


WHO defines Disabilities as an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions, an impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. In 2014, the Islamic Consultative Assembly (parliament) of I.R. Iran passed a comprehensive bill on the right of persons with disabilities and the ministries of health and medical education were assigned to oversee its implementation. Under Article 1, the term person with disability is referred to ‘Those identified by the medical commission as having physical, mental or both disorders with a lasting effect on their health and general ability, limiting their independence socially and economically.’ … In 2002, the Islamic Republic of I.R. Iran assigned the Welfare Organisation to be responsible for the persons with disabilities. This organisation has various departments, such as cultural and social department which includes between all, the office of ‘family and women empowerment’ and also the office of ‘children and juveniles.’ The department of prevention and treatment of addiction includes a sub office on preventing disabilities. However the most important department working with persons with disabilities is the rehabilitation department and one of its offices is assigned to empowerment of persons with disabilities. The welfare organisation is responsible for the mutilation of women as all its departments have the power to prevent, empower, inform and eradicate FGM.”[xxxix]


Governmental Anti-FGM Interventions


While there have been close to no governmental efforts in Iran to eradicate FGM, Rayehe Mozafarian asked the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei`s view point. He has called FGM not acceptable and issued a fatwa stating that FGM is not obligatory.[xl] However, this does not go far enough, as he has characterized it as permissible. He has stated, “Today, female genital mutilation is not common among Shiites but the usage narrative show that it does not hurt if it can be done … [in certain] conditions, including compliance with health issues. But because the social norms have changed today, this action would not be acceptable…”[xli] In response to questions of whether a woman’s duty would require her to undergo FGM at her husband’s request the Ayatollah responded that, “implementation of husband’s order is obligatory for the wife if it does not have disadvantages or it is not harmful for the wife, she has to listen to her husband’s request.”[xlii]


In July of 2015, the University of Tehran (a public state-run university) and Iranian Campaign Stop FGM Iran held a conference on the subject of FGM, marking the first time that an official body connected to the government publicly remarked on this issue and governmental and official media cover the news and speak out about FGM in Iran for the first time. This event broke the silence after many years.[xliii] Experts discussed the harmful consequences of FGM, the underlying reasons for FGM, and an analysis of the linkage between FGM and Islam. DR. Bokharayee, Dr. Akbary and Mozafarian discussed that there was no religious precedent for the practice of FGM but that this was an antiquated practice simply given religious significance in order to remain pertinent.


Non-Governmental Anti-FGM Interventions


Education and Media


The prevalence of FGM in Iran has been successfully decreased in some parts through public awareness campaigns and with the help of religious leaders who have spoken out against the practice. In the western part where are near to Iraqi Kurdistan this issue decrease because Kurdish people use joint media but in the south, people talk in another language and accent and they do not have access to Kurdish media and other local media do not pay attention to this subject. By the other hand because of Iraqi-kurdish organization like wadi, Kurdish people know more about negative points of FGM. The media has been a useful tool in educating the public about FGM.


In 2014, Radio Farda in collaboration with Stop FGM Iran held the first broadcast in Farsi in which victims of FGM spoke out about the practice and its harms in their personal lives.[xliv] In the broadcast a woman tells of how her marriage ultimately failed because of her inability to enjoy sexual intimacy due to her having undergone FGM. Later, her mother was interviewed telling of how she regretted her decision to circumcise her daughter at a young age. The mother lamented that had she known about the detrimental impact of the practice on her daughter’s life she never would have done it. These emotional pleas were then interspersed with commentary from clergy and outside experts who warned of the detriments of the practice as well, further imploring the public to heed their warning.


Women’s rights activists such as Parvin Zabihi and Mehrangiz Kar have spoken out about FGM in media interviews.[xlv] Iraqi-Kurdish television stations have also aired TV specials about FGM in the Kurdish regions of Iran.[xlvi] An Iranian film released in 2014 also highlighted the issue of FGM. The film “Almond” tells the story of a Kurdish woman in Iran struggling with the consequences of FGM. This film brought increased attention to the issue of FGM in Iran, and was shown in the Growth Film Festival of Tehran as well as international film festivals.[xlvii]

Fatemeh Karimi has also written a book about this issues:  Tragedy of the Body, Violence against Women (2010).


The new book is recently published by H&S Media, written by Reyhaneh Zahiri and translated by Manavaz Alexandrian in the titled of “Mother of cloth dolls”. One of the story of this book is about Female Genital Mutilation in Iran[xlviii].


“For the first in Iran music video against FGM made by singer and artist Miss Chiman Rahmani, subtitled in English aired in most Kurdish TV and post on YouTube she tries to cover the issue of FGM and child forced marriage in her 6 minute long video music clip.”[xlix]


Researcher Kameel Ahmady found that using the media, including through interviews and online media of clerics and medical professionals speaking about the ill effects of the practice can influence attitudes toward FGM.[l]


Engaging Religious Leaders


Religious leaders who speak out against FGM can have a strong influence on changing attitudes toward FGM, particularly for those who believe FGM is a religious requirement. Religious leaders in Iran are divided on the issue, there are some religious leaders, including Sunni religious leaders in Iran, who have spoken out against the practice. The issue has been denounced by clerics in Iran who have denied that FGM is engrained in their brand of Islam.


FGM has been admonished by some clerics because, in addition to the physical harms that it causes women, they claim it causes a rift in the familial fabric because of the marital problems that decreased sexual desire and sexual dysfunction as a result of FGM can cause.


  • Ayatollah Khameneie: “It is permissible but not obligatory.”[li]
  • Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Hossein Fazlollah, 2010: “Our studies of the existing texts on this subject show that female circumcision is not of Islam’s doing and that it does not have an Islamic origin. Female circumcision was a ritual from the era of ignorance (the pre-Islamic era), when it was considered a way for a woman to make herself more attractive to her husband.”[lii]
  • Mala Seyyed Hasan Vazhi, West Azerbaijan: “FGM not only harms a woman’s health, but causes sexual problems in marriage which can lead husbands to ‘sin and adultery’. Female circumcision does nothing but hurt your daughter’s body. This practice must stop.’”[liii]

Rayehe Mozafarian wrote in her book the statements of these Ayatollahs:

  • Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani: “Women are not circumcised. Islam has been the subject of circumcision of the male penis. Because the women do not have this part of genital.”[liv]
  • Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi: “We have ordered a ban on it.”[lv]
  • Ayatollah Saanei: “Circumcision is a tradition and it should be done only for men. It is not Wajib for women.”[lvi]
  • Mullah Talib Mudizadeh, from Bandar Pol, Hormozgan province, 2010: “Regarding the proven medical and psychological arguments about the dangers of female circumcision and availability of concrete accounts testifying that female circumcision causes frigidity and sexual problems in marriage; and also considering the fact that religion always puts great emphasis on science and the Prophet of Islam has said ‘Go in quest of science, even to China’, and most sciences have proven the disadvantages of this act and insist that it shouldn’t be performed, so it is better not to be performed. My wife (Mulavi Amineh) and I have always strictly recommended people of this port and neighboring villages not to circumcise their daughters but circumcision is good and compulsory for their sons.”[lvii]
  • Mulavi Sheikh Salahedin Charaki, from Parsiaan, Hormozgan province, 2012: “There are good reasons that female circumcision is not necessary any more. It has many disadvantages and maybe leads to disloyalty of men and even having several wives. Imam Shafi’I has two different opinions about circumcision and other Sunni imams do not believe that it is compulsory. Therefore, I think now that it has been proven that it is not good for sexual relations and the amount to which the cutting should be done is not definite, not doing it would be better and more appropriate. I have not circumcised any of my three daughters because I am afraid of the dangers to their body and soul.”[lviii]
  • Ashara al-Mubasharîn Mosque in Piranshar West Azerbaijan: “Girls’ circumcision does not have many advantages for the girl and [he] has personally warned [his] family members, relatives and friends about it. [He] has also given advice and guidance about female circumcision in [his] sermons during Friday prayers and [he] has prevented this act to be carried out on [his] own family members.”[lix]


Interventions by Civil Society and the United Nations


It was not until 2014 that FGM was first publicly discussed in Iran as a human rights issue.[lx] Before this time some activists such as Parvin Zabihi, Fatemeh Karimi (author of Tragedy of body), Rayehe Mozafarian (author of Razor and Tradition) start talking about this issue. Several Iranian students have done small-scale research on FGM in Iran, including Homa Ahadi, Paisa Rezazadeh Jalali, Elham Mandegari, and Fahimeh Hassanian, Farzaneh Daneshkhah[lxi]  and etc.[lxii]

A few Iranian activists, Rayehe Mozafarian and Kameel Ahmady have more recently been instrumental in raising awareness in the country by publishing books on FGM in Farsi, notable in part because “Iranian authorities had let activists research FGM in Iran and had allowed those books to be published.”[lxiii]


As early as 2010, Rayehe Mozafarian collaborated with UNFPA, organizing a workshop on FGM in Shiraz.[lxiv] In 2014, she submitted a written statement to the UN Human Rights Council on FGM, and in 2015, presented on this topic at the 59th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.[lxv] In this year she also participated as a guest speaker in Iraqi-Kurdish Parliament for the Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM[lxvi]. In 2011, Rayehe Mozafarian published the book Tigh o Sonat. She studied the relationship between FGM and various socioeconomic factors in hopes of finding correlations that might help to diminish the prevalence of the practice. She found that women who had undergone FGM and have received an education were much less likely than those who had not received any education to impose the same practice on their daughters. In addition, economic means were a strong signifier of the likelihood of being subjected to FGM with lower income being highly correlated with incidence of FGM, and families with more financial security being less likely to impose the practice on their daughters.


In her studies found that, “there were significant relation[ships] between Female Genital Mutilation and the following independent variables: job, education, experience of Female Genital Mutilation in the family, the use of using media by women, sexual control of women, attitude of women, age of the women and marriage.”[lxvii] The she continue writing articles and reports and open special campaign. For the first time she could attract governmental attraction and manage several meetings with ministry of women`s affairs, national reference of children`s rights of justice ministry.


Kameel Ahmady published a comprehensive study about FGM in Iran in English in 2015, based on surveys and interviews of around 4,000 women and 1,000 men in Iran over the course of six years. His research produced similar findings that “…a woman’s educational attainment is one of the important factors to influence whether the daughter would be genitally mutilated or not. …[H]ighly educated women prefer not to victimize their daughter in this way; the lower the educational attainment, the more likely a mother is to follow the tradition blindly, considering it a social norm or religious duty.”[lxviii]


He further found that the rate of FGM seemed to be declining each year, and attributed this to several factors: changing times and modern life, elderly traditional circumcisers not being replaced by a younger generation of practitioners, wider media coverage of FGM, greater access to media including through technology, migration from villages to towns, greater access to education among youth, less interest in religion among youth, and lack of willingness by younger generations to accept FGM.[lxix] Through surveys measuring attitudinal change of mothers toward FGM, he saw a big change in favor of ending FGM.[lxx] Ahmady attributed the decline of FGM in Iran in part to awareness raising campaigns.[lxxi] Educating each new generation about the harms of FGM was effective in deterring them from subjecting their daughters to FGM.


As part of his study, Ahmady also implemented small scale pilot interventions to address FGM. The pilot programs started out providing medical care, and increasingly used awareness raising campaigns, lobbying, and networking to build support for anti-FGM efforts especially among religious and community leaders, as well as men and women.[lxxii] They “used social events as a potential platform e.g. weddings, Quran lessons and funerals.”[lxxiii] Ahmady’s team conducted follow up visits to the villages twice annually to assess the impact of their interventions.[lxxiv] Effective communication with the local population and identifying local individuals from the communities to carry out the work were helpful to win support from the communities.[lxxv] Involvement of religious leaders was also influential especially for those groups insisting that FGM is a requirement of Islam.[lxxvi] He noted that religious leaders “need to be persuaded to make a proclamation against FGM in order to empower their communities in the struggle to end the practice. The pilot intervention has provided a platform for religious leaders to speak out against the ritual.”[lxxvii] His team also worked to “convince the public and especially mothers not to mutilate their daughters. We have been visiting and talking to clergymen, also important part of this work.”[lxxviii] As a result of these efforts, Ahmady concluded that awareness raising campaigns and advocacy are critical to change attitudes toward FGM and help eradicate the practice, though these must be part of holistic efforts to address FGM along with support by government officials and religious leaders.


Other grassroots efforts to address FGM are also growing in Iran. The Azarmehr Association of the Women of Kurdistan in Iran, an association working on women’s rights issues, recently started addressing the issue of FGM.[lxxix] Kurdish university students also started as association against FGM, and though they were not issued a permit to operate this association, this elevated the discussion on FGM in the Kurdish regions.[lxxx] A local campaign against FGM has also been launched in the Kermansheh and Kurdish provinces in Iran including trainings for women on the harmful consequences of FGM.[lxxxi] The Stop FGM Middle East campaign has also been active in publicizing and raising awareness about the issue of FGM in Iran and efforts to eradicate it.[lxxxii] At a family consulting center in Kermansheh in Iran, Elham Hosseini and Osman Mahmoudi hold educational classes for women and parents with young children about FGM. It is also training psychology students to educate others about FGM and combat the practice. The center offers psychotherapy for women who have undergone FGM, and couples who have marital problems due to FGM.[lxxxiii] At the Hamraz Consulting Center in Javanrood, service providers have provided life skills trainings for more than 1,300 housewives and educate women about the consequences of FGM in order to prevent future occurrences of FGM.[lxxxiv]2011 marked one of the first times FGM was publicly discussed in Iran, at a national congress on health education in Tabriz.[lxxxv]

To reach out to health care professionals, Osman Mahmoudi and Muhammad Rauf Amini published a book on FGM in the first half of 2016. In the first step more than 1000 copies of this book were distributed during Ramadan month among doctors, midwives, psychologists and counselors who live in the cities of Javanrood, Paveh, Rawansar and Salas. The booklet has been produced to increase awareness and understanding of some of the issues around FGM. [lxxxvi]

Following the English publication of Ahmady’s research, many international news outlets caught wind of the practice of FGM in Iran bringing international attention to this issue. The UN has also begun putting pressure on Iran to address FGM. In June 2014, the UN Human Rights Council placed international pressure on Iran to recognize the occurrence of FGM within its borders and to seek to abolish it.[lxxxvii] In response to submissions by civil society,[lxxxviii] the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern about FGM, calling on Iran to “take measures to enforce article 664 of the Islamic Penal Code and to stop, effectively, the practice of female genital mutilation throughout the country.”[lxxxix] The primary mode of change has been brought about in Iran as a result of increasing public discussion, awareness, and grassroots movements.[xc]


Challenges to Ending FGM


While in Iran there are encouraging signs that the rate of FGM has steadily declined over the past few decades in some parts, there are challenges in addressing FGM that need to be overcome.


As a result, there is little institutional push to outlaw or address the practice or to support for civil society or activists combating FGM. Many Iranians remain unaware that it is practiced there, and there is little formal research about the practice in Iran.[xci]


Due to the aforementioned reasons, even though the Penal Code bans FGM and bodily mutilation, the provisions are not enforced to address FGM. No cases of FGM have been brought in Iran. In addition, because of the familial nature of the crimes, victims do not file charges against their own parents.[xcii]


While some religious leaders have spoken out against FGM in Iran, there is no consensus among all religious leaders in Iran. In addition, fatwas issued by local leaders have a limited reach – those issued in one area may not have an impact in other provinces or villages.[xciii]


In addition, while there has been some media coverage of FGM and media can be useful as a combative tool, many media outlets do not address FGM for fear of backlash or facing criminal penalties.[xciv] Stop FGM Iran published a letter to the media to speak out more and pay attention to FGM[xcv]. Nowadays most of local media which kept silence have started to speak out without previous considerations.



The experiences of Iran in addressing FGM can lend themselves to many lessons learned and best practices. Lessons learned and best practices which may be useful for civil society to address and prevent FGM in Indonesia include the following:


Using the Law

  • Utilize and advocate for holistic approaches to combat FGM.
  • Advocate for an anti-FGM law, or incremental bans on FGM.
  • Bring together women’s rights activists and lawyers to conduct an analysis of the legal framework in Indonesia and identify other laws that may be used to protect women and girls from FGM. For example, are there other laws relating to assault, bodily mutilation or child abuse that are not necessarily specific to FGM under which women or girls can nevertheless seek protections or legal redress? If such laws exist, consider whether strategic litigation would be useful and/or desirable to enforce those laws or raise awareness around the issue of FGM.
  • If other such laws exist, conduct educational training for prosecutors and police on how to address FGM in the context of those laws and to collect evidence.
  • If other such laws exist, advocate for changes in any law that may require a victim to file a complaint relating to FGM on her own behalf. A public prosecutor should file such claims even if the victim is not involved in the case, as victims may be afraid to file complaints against their family members.



  • Advocate to ensure women and girls have meaningful access to primary, secondary, and tertiary education of women and girls.
  • Conduct education and awareness raising campaigns about the harms of FGM, and FGM as a human rights violation. Such campaigns should target various groups including women, men, youth, religious and community leaders, government officials, medical professionals, and other relevant stakeholders. Campaigns should be tailored to each target group, and address the beliefs and attitudes underlying the practice of FGM particularly including beliefs that FGM is a religious requirement. Campaigns should be implemented by members of the local community to ensure support by the target groups. These campaigns should not just be limited to the health complications associated with FGM, but should also address FGM as a human rights violation, in order to avoid inadvertently contributing to medicalization. Utilize social events as possible platforms to address FGM, such as weddings and Quran lessons.
  • Educate medical professionals, traditional circumcisers and birth attendants about the harmful consequences of FGM. Advocate for improved socioeconomic development and opportunities for medical professionals (and traditional circumcisers), so they do not need to rely on income from performing FGM. Train traditional birth attendants to obtain licenses to perform public health work and obtain gainful employment other than performing FGM.
  • Advocate for curricula in primary and secondary schools that address gender and human rights issues.


Engaging Government Officials

  • Advocate with the Ministry of Women and other relevant ministries that already work to address violence against women to incorporate FGM.


Engaging Religious Leaders

  • Advocate with and sensitize religious leaders to make proclamations against FGM and speak out against the practice. Highlight medical evidence that FGM is harmful, and link with Islamic principles that support the use of scientific evidence.
  • Share best practices from other countries such as Iran, including proclamations against FGM by religious clergy, with government officials and religious leaders in Indonesia.


Engaging the Medical Community

  • Advocate for medical associations to speak out against FGM.


Engaging the United Nations

  • Seek support from the UN Joint Programme on FGM/C to address FGM in Indonesia, particularly now that the UN has published data about FGM in Indonesia. Seek to leverage additional financial resources, such as through the United Nations system (e.g. UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women).
  • Raise the issue of FGM in shadow reports to UN bodies.


Media Engagement

  • Train journalists and media houses to address issues of violence against women including FGM.
  • Use innovative media approaches to publicize and raise awareness about issues of FGM including traditional press and magazines; television and radio programs and interviews; social media; films including documentaries, short films, and web videos; songs and music videos; plays and theatrical performances; multiple platform advertisements; comics and infographics; and storytelling. Media approaches should utilize media that will most effectively reach populations that practice FGM, and should be culturally and contextually relevant. Media coverage involving religious clerics and medical professionals speaking out against FGM may be particularly effective in discouraging the practice.


Data Collection

  • Advocate for Indonesian government officials to collect more regular and comprehensive data on the prevalence of FGM, underlying beliefs, and trends, including in DHS surveys.
  • Capitalize on availability of new data on FGM in Indonesia, international observances such as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM and other international platforms such as the Sustainable Development Goals to persuade government officials and religious leaders to address FGM, and to raise awareness about the issue.



  • Build a network of civil society organizations and other stakeholders to advocate against FGM.
  • Explore new partnerships to advocate against FGM such as with universities, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).


Community Level Interventions

  • Promote community driven interventions, and/or integrated socioeconomic development approaches.
  • Focus community interventions where FGM is most prevalent.
  • Target interventions toward young generations, newly married families with girls at risk of FGM, and pregnant females or new mothers with girls at risk of FGM to discourage them from subjecting their daughters to FGM and thereby prevent FGM. Promote positive family values.
  • Implement programs such as ‘safe space’ programs to empower women including through life skills training, and building social networks and support groups for women.
  • Encourage a coordinated effort on the part of the local government, civil society, religious leaders, health workers, and other stakeholders.
  • Incorporate anti-FGM messages into other services provided such as health services, rights education, or other work aimed at addressing violence against women.



  • Advocate for improved socioeconomic development, especially for women and in areas where FGM is most prevalent.
  • Anticipate and plan how to address or respond to any backlash against efforts to eradicate FGM.
  • Establish an anonymous reporting hotline to deal with cases of FGM.
  • Identify champions or public figures who would be willing to speak out against FGM and champion advocacy against the practice.
  • Identify positive deviants – those who oppose FGM or refuse to subject their daughters to FGM – and interview them and encourage them to share their stories. Community or religious leaders who are positive deviants can be especially influential.
  • Connect religious leaders, journalists and media houses, and other positive deviants who oppose FGM or are friendly to women’s rights issues in order to build a social support network for them, that will reduce the possibility they may be stigmatized or face backlash individually for their actions. Provide a safe space and platform for them to safely speak out against the practice.



[1] Diya or blood money is the monetary compensation prescribed by Islamic law.

[i] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[ii] Id.; Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[iii] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[iv] Written Statement Submitted by Verein Südwind Entwicklungspolitik, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status, UN Human Rights Council, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/26/NGO/92 (6 June 2014), available at

[v] Id.

[vi] Id.

[vii] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[viii] Id.

[ix] Id.

[x] Id.

[xi] Id.

[xii] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[xiii] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[xiv] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[xv] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[xvi] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[xvii] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran 45 (2015), available at

[xviii] Id.

[xix] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[xx] Hajir Sharifi, Study Reveals Shocking FGM Prevalence in Iran, Rudaw (7 Mar. 2015), available at

[xxi] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[xxii] Id.

[xxiii] Id.

[xxiv] Id.

[xxv] Id.; Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[xxvi] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[xxvii] Stephen Schwartz, Female Genital Mutilation a Growing Problem in Iran, The Weekly Standard (20 January 2015), available at

[xxviii] Tehran University organized First Conference about Female Genital Mutilation, available at;; Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[xxix] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[xxx] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at; Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[xxxi] Tehran University organized First Conference about Female Genital Mutilation, available at; Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[xxxii] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at;

[xxxiii] Id.

[xxxiv] Id.

[xxxv] Id.;

[xxxvi] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[xxxvii] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[xxxviii] Id.; Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[xxxix] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[xl] Iran, Stop FGM Middle East, available at

[xli] Id.

[xlii] Rayehe Mozafarian, The point of view of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Female Genital Mutilation (7 June 2014), available at

[xliii] Tehran University organized First Conference about Female Genital Mutilation, available at

[xliv] FGM in Iran: Blade of Islam or patriarchal custom – an interview with scholars, activists and survivors, Stop FGM Middle East (4 December 2014), available at

[xlv] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at;

[xlvi] Iran, Stop FGM Middle East, available at

[xlvii]  Rayehe Mozafarian and Hannah Wettig, Iranian Film tackles Female Genital Mutilation (15 December 2014), available at


[xlix] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at;

[l] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[li] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[lii] Iran, Stop FGM Middle East, available at

[liii] Emma Batha, Anthropologist Reveals FGM Practised in Western, Southern Iran, Reuters (26 June 2015), available at

[liv] Id.

[lv] Id.

[lvi] Id.

[lvii] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[lviii] Id.

[lix] Id.

[lx] FGM in Iran: Blade of Islam or patriarchal custom – an interview with scholars, activists and survivors, Stop FGM Middle East (4 December 2014), available at

[lxi] and

[lxii] Id.

[lxiii] Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Female Genital Mutilation Practised in Iran, Study Reveals, The Guardian (4 June 2015), available at

[lxiv] Violations of Girls’ Rights Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind (2014), available at

[lxv] (see original citations to human rights council and CRC);

[lxvi] and

[lxvii] Rayehe Mozafarian, A survey on social-cultural factors related to Female Genital

Mutilation: A case study of age 15-49 in Qeshm Island, Shiraz University (2011).

[lxviii] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[lxix] Id.

[lxx] Id.

[lxxi] FGM in Iran: Blade of Islam or patriarchal custom – an interview with scholars, activists and survivors, Stop FGM Middle East (4 December 2014), available at

[lxxii] Id.

[lxxiii] Id.

[lxxiv] Id.

[lxxv] Id.

[lxxvi] Id.

[lxxvii] Id.

[lxxviii] Kameel Ahmady, A Letter from Iran, Stop FGM in Kurdistan (January 2010), available at

[lxxix] Iran, Stop FGM Middle East, available at

[lxxx] Id.

[lxxxi]  New publication about FGM in Persian (13 February 2015), available at

[lxxxii] Iran, Stop FGM Middle East, available at

[lxxxiii]  Press Statement: FGM in Iran needs to be put on international agenda (9 June 2015), available at

[lxxxiv]  Osman Mahmoudi, Tackling FGM in Iran: Education about FGM during life skill classes for housewives (5 August 2014), available at

[lxxxv]  Iran, Stop FGM Middle East, available at (citing link to congress on health education); see also T. Pashaei, F. Majlessi, A. Rahimi and A. Ghartappeh, Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation and the Effects of Health Education Based on Behavioral Intention Model on Attitudes and Behaviors in Women Referring to Health Centers in Ravansar-Iran, in The First International and 4th National Congress on Health Education and Promotion (16-19 May 2011, Tabriz, Iran), Health Promotion Perspectives: An International Journal, Vol. 1, Supplement 2011, available at


[lxxxvii] Hajir Sharifi, Study Reveals Shocking FGM Prevalence in Iran, Rudaw (7 Mar. 2015), available at



[xc] In the Name of Tradition. Prod. Kameel Ahmady (2015), available at

[xci] Kameel Ahmady, A Letter from Iran, Stop FGM in Kurdistan (January 2010), available at

[xcii] Stephen Schwartz, Female Genital Mutilation a Growing Problem in Iran, The Weekly Standard (20 January 2015), available at

[xciii] Kameel Ahmady, A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran (2015), available at

[xciv] Id.


Some information about our campaign in Iran

Some information about our campaign in Iran

Some information about our campaign in Iran

Female Mutilation
is a book by Hilary Burrage about female genital mutilation (FGM), a harmful traditional practice which occurs in both ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ countries across the globe.  The book, published in early 2016 by New Holland Publishers, is available from bookstores and sellers everywhere, including via  / and at 30% discount from the Guardian bookstore.

Female Mutilation comprises largely the narratives of around seventy people in many parts of the world, some of them actually survivors of FGM or the family members of survivors.  Other contributors include globally distributed campaigners against the practice from many walks of life – community activists, clinicians (midwives, doctors etc), lawyers and the police, teachers, social workers, policy makers and politicians. In almost every part of the world FGM is now illegal, but it is thought nonetheless that over three million women and girls undergo it every year. Initial estimates for the early twenty-first century suggested there are around 140 – newly revised (2016) to 200 – million women and girls globally living with the consequences of genital mutilation, with perhaps another ten percent of those who have undergone it having actually died directly as a result of this violence.

Chapter 5 is about Iranian Campaign to end FGM
Female Mutilation (Chapter 5, Egypt, the Middle East and Southeast Asia): Rayehe Mozafarian, Iran

[email protected]

Stop FGM Iran


I grew up and work in Iran. When I started campaigning against FGM I had only one laptop and the support of my mother, and we have continuing problems with funding.   Every day, from when I wake up and answer my messages, I am busy.

I cannot leave or forget to work on this subject.  Sometimes I ask myself, why do you continue?  And I answer myself immediately, ‘No, you work hard to convince people that FGM is still happening in some parts of Iran. You should carry on and stand with all girls will become victims, and try to save them.’

read more:

16.01.22 Female Mutilation book pic

Genital Mutilation Among Iranian Women

Genital Mutilation Among Iranian Women

Circumcision of Women Continues in Six Iranian Provinces

Genital Mutilation Among Iranian Women

Iran is among the countries where female genital mutilation continues to be performed in some geographic regions. Such practices have become accepted as a form of violence against women, acts that sometimes result in death. On Saturday July 11th, Iran’s Sociology Association held a conference titled “The Blade and Tradition” on the subject which was attended by sociologists and psychologist involved with this issue.

According to Rayehe Mozafarian, a researcher, traces of female genital mutilation have been recorded in six provinces of Iran, in Hormozgan, Lorestan, Ilam, Kermanshah, West Azerbaijan and Khuzestan. According to the Iranian KhabarOnline website, Mozafarian has said that in Gheshm Island on the Persian Gulf some 83 percent of women have been recorded to have been circumcised because of gender stereotyping. She ruled out the claims that the practice is declining. “Some people say that the practice is declining in occurrence, but that is not true. We cannot conclusively say whether it is declining or on the rise because little research is conducted on this. What is needed is greater university level research and statistical work on the subject to make a definitive conclusion.”


She had published the results of her research in a book titled The Blade and Tradition, according to which some 83$ of women polled on the Iranian island of Gheshm and 50% of women in Kurdistan province undergo genital mutilation practices.

140 Million Victims Around the World

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is so widespread around the world that a special day has been designated for fighting it (February 6th). According to international statistics, every 10 seconds a women is subjected to this violent act. Some statistics speak of 140 million women around the world who have been victims of genital mutilation. The World Health Organization, WHO, has announced that 2 million women are circumcised around the world every year, a process that removes some or all external female genitalia. The UN has recognized this practice as violence against women, equating it to torture.

Some men believe this practice only takes place in some parts of Africa, but Mozafarian points out that it is in fact performed in many countries of the world. The Middle East is not immune from this violent inhuman act.

Before Iran was added to the list of countries where FGM occurred, many would not believe that Iranian women were victims of the practice.  Psychologist Nazi Akbari said that she had met women at international forums who had confessed that they did not know that the practice took place in Iran, adding that the field research carried out in Iran surprised them.

She believes that using the word “circumcision” actually provided some justification to the brutal act because circumcision for men was religiously an acceptable act for men. She prefers to use the term “dismemberment,” a word she felt described the depth of the tragedy.

FGM is Not an Arab Legacy

Many people believe that FGM stems from religious beliefs. Mozafarian differs and says the practice is rooted in tradition and has no roots in religion. Islam, she adds, in no way supports this and the act is not a legacy of Arabs. Neither the Quran nor senior clerics in Islam have advocated or hinted such a practice. Some clerics have actively opposed it, which she believes should be used against the practice.

Speaking to Ghanoon (Law) newspaper, Mozafarian referenced to article 633 of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran which was passed in 2013 and which provided that, “cutting off either side of a woman’s urinal member resulted in half her dowry,” and said that “a person could file a suit against whoever had performed such an act on her but the problem is that most women on whom this is performed are younger than the legal age of 18 and so cannot file a lawsuit in a court of law. Consequently, no such complaints are filed.” According to her, the inability of women to file a legal complaint has launched a debate in some quarters on the subject. But even if legal action was taken against perpetrators, she felt the practice would go underground, rather than disappear, which made her conclude that the law had to deal with the social consequences of a ban and reject unaccepted actions in this regard.