In Turkey, circumcision of women is not really an issue. It’s not even really a topic for women’s organisations, which are focussing on problems that are widespread here, like honour killings, domestic violence, girls not sent to school by their parents, and for example the position of women in the labour market and in politics. This is because female genital mutilation – FGM, the official term for women’s circumcision – is believed to be non-existent in Turkey. The Turkish government made that claim when Human Rights Watch asked them about it: Turkey practices ‘hanafi’, a liberal form of Sunni Islam which does not recommend FGM.
As if other forms of Islam did! It is not an Islamic thing, it’s a traditional torture practice. In my opinion, just saying it doesn’t exist is way too easy. Especially since more and more reports are being published about the cutting of female genitals in northern Iraq, where it is widespread among the Kurds. Estimates vary from 40% to 70% of the women being mutilated, in the countryside up to around 80%.
This raises questions about the traditions of Kurds living in Turkey. How widespread is FGM in the south east of Turkey, or in the huge Kurdish communities in cities like Istanbul, Izmir, Adana and Mersin? Has anybody ever really done any research into that? I don’t think so; I couldn’t find any report or statistic. But until a few years ago, these also didn’t exist about northern Iraq. What is under the surface? What are (Kurdish) Turkish women suffering from without anybody really being aware of it?
Somebody needs to investigate that. And the anger that I feel about this horrible practice, just while writing this blogpost, might lead to me dig deeper into the subject myself. It will take time, I’m sure, but I will get back to this!