Four-year-old Shwen screams during her circumcision in Suleimaniyah, in Iraq's Kurdistan.
Golnaz Esfandiari wrote about this issue
In the Kurdish areas of Iran and Iraq, supporters of the practice say it controls women's sexual desires and makes them "clean." Food prepared by uncircumcised women, for example, can be considered unacceptable.
No precise figures are available. But women's rights activists estimate the number of mutilated women in Kurdish cities and villages is high.
Parvin Zabihi, a member of a women's rights group based in Iran's Kurdistan called the Committee Against Sexual Violence, has researched female circumcision in the Kurdish-populated areas in Iran.
"One of my friends carried out some research in a classroom at a school in the Piranshahr area. Out of the 40 students, 38 were local -- and out of those 38, 36 had been circumcised. We came across many cases [of FGM] wherever we went to investigate," Zabihi says.
Also this week, Amnesty released a report on Kurdistan
, which claims that security forces there are operating outside the law and regularly abuse their authority.
(Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan
-- Luke Allnutt