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Female Genital Mutilation in Iraq
In 2008, Gola told her story of female genital mutilation in Iraq to reporters with The Human Rights Watch. It was a story of silent pain. “My family took me and told me nothing, I never went to the doctors, my family was never concerned.”

About Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation or FGM has been going on for centuries. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FGM as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

Iraq’s older generations believe that cutting a woman’s clitoris will ensure the preservation of her virginity and push the prevalent practice of female genital mutilation in Iraq. Additionally, the women do not receive any anesthesia beforehand. FGM consists of three types including type one which is the removal of the labia minora and the labia major, the protective layers surrounding the vaginal orifice. Meanwhile, type two is the removal of the clitoris and the labia minora and type three is the narrowing of the vaginal orifice. However, all reproductive parts of a woman are important to her maintaining physical and mental health, and expulsion of one or more of these parts puts women’s lives at risk.

FGM is a silent practice that has been going on for decades. Female genital mutilation in Iraq occurs across Iraq without religious, lawful or ethical reasoning. Mutilation begins on girls as young as 3 although grown women may also experience it.

Solutions

Wadi, an NGO, finds solutions for women in crisis. In early 2004, Wadi began visiting villages after learning of the high number of women that FGM affects. After interviewing several women in the area, it found that 907 out of the 1,544 women it questioned were victims of FGM. Wadi has launched a campaign to educate women about the harmful consequences of FGM. In 2011, the parliament of the Kurdish region passed a bill banning domestic violence against women thus banning FGM. However, even though the Kurdish region has banned this practice, women’s voices are continuing to cry out against it to prevent future injustices.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

In July 2012, Wadi launched an FGM hotline to provide social, mental, medical and reproductive advice to FGM-affected women throughout the region. By mainstreaming gender rights and working on educational programs, Iraq should be able to make headway to eradicate FGM. To fully eliminate this practice, the Wadi team began to visit local villages and midwives to educate them that these mutilations do not preserve a woman’s virginity, the wounds are not self-healing and the practice causes harm that is often permanent. Hadiya, who experienced FGM at the age of 5-years-old, spoke of pain 20 years after the mutilation occurred. FGM can cause infertility, incontinence, complications in labor and even death.

 

With all endings come new beginnings. Iraq has been the home to unlawful practices and prevalent mistreatment of women, but women are steadily pushing back to reclaim their freedom and honor. Some who have undergone FGM are now refusing to let their daughters experience the same fate, disallowing their clerics from approving practices of FGM. They band together in face of an ancient ritual that tears the body apart. Gola told her story so that women born after her will not have to tell theirs.

– Nancy Taguiam
Photo: Flickr

wadi_clean_water
Throughout the world, there have been several innovations to generate new portable clean water in developing nations. The latest of these innovations is WADI, a water purification system started by the Australian corporation Helioz.

According to Helioz’ research team, WADI is an easy to use, cost effective UV measurement device for solar water disinfection (SODIS). In short, WADI is a solar powered water disinfection system that operates “without the use of chemicals, batteries or filters”. Because of its pure use, WADI guarantees its users with safe, chemical-free drinking water.

The WADI device is simple and easy to use. A user simply fills in a PET bottle with water from any source, puts the WADI device on instead of the regular bottle cap, and exposes the bottle to sunlight and UV rays until the water in the bottle registers as clean on the device. If the water is still contaminated, the device will show a sad face to the user.

If the water has been purified, the device will register a smiley face on it’s small LCD screen. However, the device does face some challenges. Although the device shows serious advancement towards clean water around the world, it also has setbacks in areas where water sources and sunlight are scarce.

In areas where sunlight is scarce, the cleaning process might take up anywhere from 45 minutes to two days longer than normal. As a result people who are in desperate need for water resort to drinking contaminated, more accessible water, researchers say.

However, the self sufficient water purification system promises to take the world by storm. The project is expected to launch in developing nations in January 2014. Currently, Helioz is working on a funding campaign for the device.

The campaign will allow the company to create a further study on the effects the device has on remote villages such as Odisha, India. The study will also help the company customize their product depending on the area it is being used in.

Projects such as WADI show great promise towards completing worldwide water purification. However, only time, and user responses will tell if the project is a success.

– Stephanie Olaya

Sources: Tree Hugger, Helioz
Photo: INiTS