During a decade, two Kurdish
artists captured the fight again female circumcision, or female genital mutilation (FGM), in the Kurdistan region in Iraq. The film began with interviews of women who have been through the horrific practice, but soon began documenting the shattering of the taboo regarding the matter.
The Arabic BBC
and The Guardian produced from these documentations a 50-minute show that will be aired to 30 million people around the world on Friday.
Shara Amin and Nabaz Ahmed spent 10 years on the roads of Kurdistan speaking to women and men about the impact of female genital mutilation (FGM)
on their lives, their children and their marriages. "It took a lot of time to convince them to speak to us. This was a very taboo subject. Speaking about it on camera was a very brave thing to do."
In one part of the movie, a cutting ritual is documented. A 5-year-old is forcefully led by her mother to a room; then, only the girl's screams are heard. The cutter then waves the knife to the camera with pride, followed by the mother carrying the stunned, half-naked girl.
Another clip shows one Kurdish couple speaking with extraordinary, raw honesty: Hawa, a seamstress, and Erat, a farmer, have been married for 10 years and have three children. Hawa said she and her three sisters were mutilated at her grandmother's insistence.
"My two sisters and I, three of us, we all had khatana (cutting). Believe me, my mother did not care about the practice, never insisted, but my grandma insisted. She would always say food and water served by their hands would be haram (impure) if the girls were not cut."
Asked about the extent of her mutilation, she said: "My husband always says 'nothing is left of you'".
Hawa's husband said FGM had destroyed his marriage. "I was not aware of this when I married her. If I had known, I swear to God even if they paid me $10,000 I would not have married her, because it is a problem for me.
"This circumcision is similar to neutering animals," he said. "It's a major problem. There is no sensation. It feels like lying next to a cold fish."
Woman discussing cutting
The filmmakers, both in their 30s and ardent campaigners against the practice, joined forces with Wadi, a small German-Iraqi
non-governmental organization dedicated to eliminating FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan, and took their campaign film to parliament.
They were invited in but only female politicians turned up to the viewing. Nevertheless, the showing sparked a campaign by the Kurdish parliamentary women's committee to outlaw FGM.
FGM is not just confined to some Muslim
countries in the Middle East – it is also widespread in parts of Africa and Indonesia.
Partly as a result of the film, the numbers of girls being genitally mutilated in the villages and towns of Iraqi Kurdistan has fallen by more than half in the last five years. The percentage of medically supervised cutting has also risen.