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Women Health. 2013;53(6):537-51. doi: 10.1080/03630242.2013.815681.

Female genital mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan: description and associated factors.

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Maternity Unit, Preventive Health Department, Sulaimaniyah, Iraq.


The high prevalence of female genital mutilation has been a concern in Iraqi Kurdistan. This study was undertaken to estimate its prevalence and describe factors associated with its occurrence. A cross-sectional survey was undertaken from March to April 2011 of females aged up to 20 years using interviews and clinical examination. The survey included 1,508 participants with mean age of 13.5 years (SD 5.6). Overall female genital mutilation prevalence was 23%, and the mean age at which it had been performed was 4.6 years (SD 2.4). Type I (partial or total removal of the clitoris) comprised 76% of those who had had female genital mutilation; in 79% of cases the decision to perform it was made by the mother; and in 54% of cases it was performed by traditional birth attendants/midwives. Women aged 16 years and over were more likely to have had female genital mutilation compared to children aged below 6 years (OR 11.9, p < .001). Children of uneducated mothers were eight times as likely to have had genital mutilation compared to children of mothers with over nine years of education (OR 8.0, p < .001). Among women aged 17 years and younger, 34% of those who were married had been circumcised versus 17% of those who were not married (p < .001). Participants residing in the northeast of Kurdistan region were more likely to have been circumcised. The study results show that female genital mutilation is a frequent practice in Iraqi Kurdistan. Attention and intervention is needed to address this aspect of the well-being of girls and women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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