Scarred for life

Photo essay: Female circumcision in Kurdistan

by Amit R. Paley

Originally featured in Washington Post, "For Kurdish Girls, a Painful Ancient Ritual". Photographer Andrea Bruce and special correspondents Nian Ahmed and Dlovan Brwari contributed to this report: Sheelan Anwar Omer, a shy 7-year-old Kurdish girl, bounded into her neighbor's house with an ear-to-ear smile, looking for the party her mother had promised. There was no celebration. Instead, a local woman quickly locked a rusty red door behind Sheelan, who looked bewildered when her mother ordered the girl to remove her underpants. Sheelan began to whimper, then tremble, while the women pushed apart her legs and a midwife raised a stainless-steel razor blade in the air. "I do this in the name of Allah!" she intoned. Kurdistan is the only known part of Iraq --and one of the few places in the world--where female circumcision is widespread. More than 60 percent of women in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq have been circumcised, according to a study conducted this year. In at least one Kurdish territory, 95 percent of women have undergone the practice, which human rights groups call female genital mutilation>>>Full text

شيلان دختر هفت ساله كرد در حاليكه لحظه اي لبخند و تبسم از چهره اش محو نميشود ,در خانه همسايه با دختران همسن و سال خود به انتظار پارتي كه مادرش به او قول داده است نشسته است. اما واقعيت اين است كه پارتي اي در كار نيست و او و5 دختر خردسال ديگر همسايگي تا دقايقي ديگر ختنه خواهند شد. ختنه دختران عملي است كه قرنها در كردستان عراق انجام ميشود. كاتيب پيرزن 91 ساله اي كه از اين عمل حمايت ميكند ميگويد: ختنه براي پاك شدن روح زن از مسائل جنسي واجب است چرا كه با اين عمل روح زن پاك ميشود و ميتوان از دست او غذا خورد. او در حاليكه با انگشتش نشان ميدهد ميگويد "قسمت بسيار كوچكي از آلت زنانه را قطع ميكنند و به آن صورت هم دردي ندارد .او همچنين گفت من هم خودم و هم تمام دخترانم را ختنه كرده ام." From



since when is kurdish tradition related to the african???

by Kobra on

i'm sorry but thats not true! i'm kurd woman from turkey but we don't do like this stupid tradition! i thinked women circumcision is in africa like somalia etc! i did heard the first time and actually this have nothing to do with islam or kurdish tradition!


nope, i disagree...:-)

by Anonymous fish unregistered (not verified) on

communication is NOT impossible. this was pretty specific and specific comments were addressed. my comment and YOUR response was clearly related to male circumcision, not female mutilation. there is no confusion between the two. ribald sexual comments played no part in either my comments/discussion nor yours. i was mixing absolutely nothing.

so, i do agree the end is nigh on this thread.

thanks for the advice. i did in fact register for the SOLE purpose of making a comment on another thread because the powers that be declined to post my comment... until SEVERAL hours later. so both comments appear in that particular thread.

i will continue to post anonymously until I feel it necessary to do otherwise.

peace to you and the world... we need it.

rosie is roxy is roshan

I'm sorry Anon Fish, I just wanted to leave a reply..

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

for some reason the thread just died right after my post, I don't know why. I can't really spend time on this, there are too many disturbing things happening regarding Is/Pal onsite and I am the only non-Zionist Jew among the regular bloggers so I'm busy.

All I'll say is that there were actually three things going on here, not two as you said, on this thread. There was the horrific female circumcision, then there was the controversial but less horrific male circumcision, and then the ribald sexual aspects that come up out of considering the seoncd.

On a thread like this it's very hard to deal with the third when you're in the shadow of the first. And so the communication is virtually impossible.

But in general yes I think one has to make a decision in a post, either the post is "scientific" and "rationale' as best as it can be or it's's something else..

and to mix the the two of them, especially on a loaded thread like this, is very confusing and also disturbing. As it was for me when I wrote mine...I didn't quite know where I was or what IT was, much less yours.

I have to leave it now, I'm drained. Don't be too much of a stoner and hope you had fun with your hubby.

If you are planning on posting here regularly, Anon just not...catchy enough. Suggest you choose other name and possibly register.

Kaveh Nouraee


by Kaveh Nouraee on

On behalf of all readers and myself who read this while attempting to digest a noontime meal here on the West Coast, I would like to thank you for the visuals conveyed in your post.

Breast lifts, freckles all over, vaginal surgery, circumcised vs. not, sagging butts, and lunch.

Bon appetit!!  :-)



ok, fine Robin

by Anonymous fish (not verified) on

you got me. i'll go stand in the corner for the rest of the day.

but, before i do, let me clarify/correct a few of your assumptions/statements.

First, I NEVER mentioned or suggested "why" western women prefer circumsized men. i merely suggested that they do.

Secondly, let me remove the implication of a verifiable survey. let me replace that with a "in my experience and based on conversations i have had".

please don't come back and argue with my "opinion" Robin just because you disagree with it. i went to a girls school and believe me, this WAS discussed ad nauseam. i have several sisters and female friends. we talk about it. ok? does that pass your criteria for having a valid opinion (repeat OPINION)?

Thirdly, you're assuming, based on your statement, that the preference of women isn't a factor in circumsision. while that may be true in that the majority of the surgeries are performed during infancy, i can only conclude that you don't feel a partner has a voice in this decision. i personally agree with that because i sure as hell wouldn't get a breast implant or vaginal surgery JUST because my partner wanted me to. however, many women DO value their partners request or preference and i would only assume that some men do as well.

no Robin, i do not find my "assertations" strange at all. it is my opinion. you know, that bastion of freedom? i do prefer a circumsized man. i'm not going to apologize for it. i'm not going to act like i'm some kind of monster for it either.

i'd love him irregardless, but i do have feelings and preferences of my own. i'm sure my partner loves me the way i am but i'm also sure he wouldn't divorce me if a lost a few pounds or didn't have a ton of freckles all over. i'm also very positive that, while he loves me the way i am, he wouldn't protest my having a breast uplift and getting my sagging butt realigned.

the medical stance for or against circumcision is varied. it is a personal decision for every parent to make. a parent makes many decisions on behalf of their children. some right, some wrong. the argument to let young men decide on their own is a valid one. these opinions will change again in the next few years. nothing is absolute, especially in the medical field.

now, all of this talk is making me very horny. i think i'm going to call it a sick day and head for home where my "perfect just as he is in my eyes" husband is waiting.

do you mind?

rosie is roxy is roshan

I don't understand why people are complaining that the pictures

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

are here. I've never understood things like that.

The main photo on the homepage is deeply disturbing, but so is life. Often deeply disturbing. It's the TRUTH. It's should be here.

It says it's a PHOTO ESSAY. So if you don't want to see these KNOW they're going to be FAR more disturbing than the main photo.. don't click.

And if you did click, you get some very small images which are unclear, but they give you a pretty good taste of what's to come. So..don'y click, don't look.

You know what I think happens? Something pulls us, something primal, something lurid, to look..those of us who don't want to look...some dark part of us does...want to look...

I trained myself not to do that long ago. I already know these pictures in my mind's eye... and I REALLY don't want to look...I read the whole thread..but I didn't look... 


rosie is roxy is roshan

This is ONLY for those talking about MALE circumcision/AnonFish

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

So. To cut or not to cut. That is the question.

By now it should be apparent from this thread  that there are two major schools of thought about it in the medical community (which btw is almost always the case in the medical community). I would not give my children this type of "voluntary surgery". I believe nature has made us as perfect as possible for where we are within the evolutionary process, and so..."don't fix it if it ain't broken." Consider tonsils. They used to be routinely removed as useless and now we know they are an important part of the lymph-cleaning system. Do you realize how little we still know about the body? I mean I REMEMBER when the West first found out about acupuncture...when Nixon went to China....

And then you come along, Anonymous Fish, and after a seemingly rational, analytical, scientific beginning, you come up with this reason why the majority of us Western women prefer circumcised men:

 Secondly, appearance. I'm not going to speak for middle eastern women so don't go jumping my shit. but i will tell you that the majority of western women prefer a circumcized male. sorry, it's the truth. (i just hope some man comes in and starts blasting away about THAT so I can point out some of THEIR expectations are hardly in the best interest of woman. :-0)

Forget about the men,  Fish. I'll blast. So first of all, tell me, what poll did you take?

Fish, even IF the majority of us prefered circumcised men's appearance, that would hardly be a factor in the discussion of whether to mutilate the penis. Would it???!!! Second of all, you say majority with no basis, but say it WAS the majority. What's that, 51% or 99%?

Myself personally I prefer an uncut man visually AND for various other reasons inappropriate to this particular thread. Look, if I love you, don't matter WHAT you got down there, you will float my boat. Buuut...if I were allowed to BUILD my next lover...I would build him uncut. Am I majority? Minority? 50-50? I don't know. But the thing is, I don't CLAIM to know. Wow, Fish, you must have phoned MANY MANY countries to take that poll.

My point being Fish, don't you find these asserrtions of yours strange and what to they say about the validity of your whole argument?

I do find the actual act of cutting cruel... and repulsive. I have for a long time been against ciircumcison,. but I have to admit .some of the arguments for it here are compelling.. But not compelling enough for me to get my son cut. Or my next lover. Especially not  because I thought it looked pretty....  But that's just me. Or is it?




Jahanshah, you should

by Aatash (not verified) on

Jahanshah, you should explicitly mention in the title "IRAQI Kurdistan" to resolve the confusion. Please edit this soon..


Very Sad..

by parisa k. (not verified) on

My heart aches seeing these pictures.. why... it's all because of ignorance and stupid they say: “Tradition is an explanation for acting without thinking”

it doesn't matter if it is happening in Iraq or Iran, It doesn't matter that our "OPEN-MINDED!!" iranian people don't do is happening somewhere in this world...that's sad..



by hajiagha on

جی جی ور پریده
توضیح فارسی بده مگر زنها اولش دودول دارند که یکی با ساتور بخواهد قطع اش کنه توضیح بده ساده باشه فارسی باشه چند تا عکس هم از موضوع بگذار تا اگر کسی مثل من تا به حال مجرد مانده و  این چیز ها را ندیده آگاه بشه 

 وقتی من بچه بودم استا سلیمون تا من رو ختنه کنه چشماش ضعیف بود و دستش می لرزید برای همین هم اشتباه کرد و یک وجب از دستگاه من قطع کرد حالا که بزرگتر شدم می فهمم چه بلای اون پیر مرد سرم در  آورد اگر اون یک وجبه سر جاش بود من الان نون اون یک وجب را می خورم
یک ستون طنز آزاد و جوک باز کن تا مشتری بشیم و بخندیم



by Souri on

why post such a horrifying thing that is not even done in your country?

This is the whole point!!! Because people who read the word "Kurdistan" could be easily mislead, thinking it happens in Iran-Kurdistan.

Anything is allowed here, Anything which could make Iran's face darker and dirtier than it really is. We live in North America and we can say and show any false base thing that can show our country worse that it is. Please just have a look at that blog " Iranian Children living in boxes"......I though we could see those kind of  picture only in the Nabavi's garbage !!

Don't you find it amusing? I think that's exactly what the enemy of Iran like to see and to believe!

Poor children in Iran, always existed and were every where, even at the time of the Shah. What is sad is, nobody cared about them at that time either !! The rich Jewish of the Shah's time, didn't care as much about those children as they do now!! They never helped them, because they preferred to send their money to Israel. Now, they finance the organization for helping Children of Iran...funny!!            


jeez Marge

by Anonymous commentor (not verified) on

what's with the attitude babe? it's not like you posted a link to sign a petition. i don't see you calling for a march on iraq. maybe you forgot to post the link to your scheduled protest on the steps of washington.

but until you DO have something proactive going on, expressing sorrow and rage and pain is the best we can do. show us the way!!!!

to last: well, actually several of us were dicussing both male and female. not sure why it's such a problem for you personally. and to reafirm what many have already clarified. this ain't in iran, it's in iraq. and it's considered extremely poor manners to confuse the two. :-)


why post such a horrifying

by Anonymousccc (not verified) on

why post such a horrifying thing that is not even done in your country.
you scare people away from persians by doing this

mr. author please pay attention



by capt_ayhab on

Listen lady

What ever your problem is, its your problem. And why is it you assume that you are the only one who is doing something about it?
chill out and mind your manors

capt_ayhab [-YT]


Does anyone remember Banaz

by DJK (not verified) on

Does anyone remember Banaz Mahmod, the young honor killing victim from the UK?

Here's her story...."Before coming to the UK he (her father) had arranged for his daughters to be circumcised – a shocking, traumatic ritual carried out by the girls’ grandmother, with their heads wedged in her lap while two other female relatives helped pin them down.

Bekhal, Mahmod’s third daughter, who was about 10 at the time, had accidentally found the clitoridectomy kit beforehand – a sharp knife, a bottle of alcohol and some cotton wool – not knowing what it was for until she peered in through the window and saw what was going on, and ran away, only to be dragged back to take her turn. Her grandmother had cataracts and couldn’t see properly. Bekhal recalled a cut nerve and torrents of blood. It was supposed to dampen their sexual pleasure, apparently, but if that was the case, it had not been a complete success. Bekhal, two years older than Banaz, had been the first daughter to make life hard for Mahmod. She was lucky not to be dead too. Now 23, she would remain in police protection for many years – to save her from harm at the hands of her own family."

Read the rest of this poor young woman's tragic story (if you have the stomach for it)...



RE: wtf

by Toofantheoncesogreat (not verified) on

No its not allowed in Iran. Il quote a piece from an Arabic gynecologist:

"3. Female circumcision is not practised in Islamic countries other than Egypt and Sudan and possibly exists in few others. Women of Mecca, Medina, Najd, the Persion Gulf, Iran, North Africa, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, etc are not circumcised. This is established fact as well as first hand knowledge - I am a gynaecologist and I have dealt with all those nationalities."

I believe Iraq will ban it as well as they get more security control in the Kurdish areas.


this is sick

by wtf (not verified) on

Is this allowed in Iran?


her expression brings it all home

by Anonymous123 (not verified) on

I know this happened in Kordestan of Iraq. These pictures are so depressing and they brings home all the pain that I have felt through out the years from the atrocities in our own country of Iran. Stonnings, murders, throats cut, eyes pulled out, tortures, relentless oppression. I am crying as I am writing this. I am so frustrated because my beloved country is so deep in shit too.


Dear Laleh

by Zion on

A better term would be Mufti, but I think the term Mullah was clear enough as well given the context.


Al' right, apology accepted. :o)

by T.h.e.P.o.p.e. (not verified) on



I could not stand watching the photos

by Anonymous123 (not verified) on

I literally fainted after watching these pictures. This is an outrage, sick, inhuman I hope it does not happen in Iran. But with the situation as is who knows they may start this too.

Free Spirit

Must continue to speak out against such atrocities

by Free Spirit on

 No matter what some on this thread might believe. Speaking out against injustices in the world can make a difference.

Circumcision of women and girls is ......INJUSTICE!

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. "

               -Martin Luther King Jr.


No Iraqi Kurdish Mullahs?

by LalehGillani on

Iraq’s Kurdistan has a population of approximately 6 million people. Kurdish Muslims who are Sunnis comprise 95% of this population.

In my post, I called their religious leaders mullahs. Perhaps a poor choice of words, but I am accustomed to calling all Muslim clergy mullahs. Please forgive me for that.

I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek

Wow Capt Ayhab, you're saving the world huh?

by I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek on

No fuggin shet sherlock! This is torturous. Now what? Are you just going to bash and trash and dwell on those points alone OR figure out a way to help or contribute?  

I posted the article in the hope that people will read the people's words instead of just react to pictures. Hopefully that's not asking too much! The point of the article is, there are major campaigns in Kurdistan to stop this "tradition" based in myth. 


LalehGillani, H E L L - O!

by ThePope on

Weren't you taLking about KORDESTAAN-e araagh??!!!!!!
Didn't you say: "a local woman uttered “Kurds” in my ears and walked away. So I convinced my sponsor that I had to go to Iraq’s Kurdistan to save the humanity. And I went…"
...and the rest of your bla bla bla wasn't it about "Iraq's Kurdistan"?!!!!

If you read my comment carefully, you might understand  that I'm refering to "Iraq's Kurdistan".
Now suddenly you make it look like it's the whole country (iraq)!!
You can name a hundred of your mullahs in araagh but it has nothing to do with "Iraq's Kurdistan", that YOU were talking about!!!

BTW, Ayat. Sistani and the rest of your mullahs are not from "Iraq's Kurdistan"!

But anyhow, who cares,, not important,,, YOU'RE RIGHT,,, whatever you say...


Blue Haired Lady

by capt_ayhab on

The poor baby was lucky that she did not die of shock. according to doctors, the pain and the shock to body is so immense that often kills the helpless victim.

capt_ayhab [-YT]

I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek

How Progress happens with this issue: communication

by I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek on

Not with threats, bashing or anger, but with communication.

Her mother, Shukria Ismaeel Jarjees, a 38-year-old housewife, said she was forced by her relatives and elderly women in the community to have her daughter circumcised. "I made a huge mistake, and now my daughter is always complaining of pain in her pelvis," Jarjees said. Her eyes began to fill with tears. "I now advise my daughters to never circumcise their children."



by capt_ayhab on

Lasti jun

Either read my privious comments or refrain from interjecting.

short and sweet

capt_ayhab [-YT]

I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek

For those who really care about these people

by I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek on

I know it's fun to make fun of them or their religion and their beliefs, but this is pretty fugging serious, considering children are involved. I hate religion. HATE IT. But to make this about religion is wrong. These rural areas face other, deeper issues, especially poverty. It's better to involve education and biology instead. Here's the ORIGINAL article where these pics appeared:


"Women's rights groups in Kurdistan are working eagerly to change the perception that the procedure is harmless and that it is required under Islam. They go to villages in rural areas where the practice is most ingrained and tell women and religious leaders of the physical and psychological damage the circumcision can cause. Health experts say the procedure can result in adverse medical consequences for women, including infections, chronic pain and increased risks during childbirth." 


Multiple Personality Disorder

Re. Anonymous fish's comment: Butchering!

by Multiple Personality Disorder on

Butchers routinely remove skin from meat, so in that regard circumcision of boys and girls is an act of butchering.

This statement, “Mastectomy prevents breast cancer“ to imply that male circumcision is a good way to prevent cancer is deceptive, but even at that some scientific studies show that when organs infested with cancerous cells are removed any un-removed cancerous cells may migrate to other organs and reestablish themselves elsewhere.  

On the question of Penile Cancer, "…When it comes to penile cancer, the Academy (American Academy of Pediatrics) notes that it (penile cancer) is so rare that it should not be a significant influence on the decision to circumcise…”, Doctor Dean Edell. 

I couldn’t follow!  Are you saying foreskin is “a skin cancer”?!  Please explain. 

And also not true about how much foreskine is removed.  In many male circumcisions practiced around the world the ENTIRE foreskin is removed, not just 1/3 to ½ of it as stated by Anonymous fish.

Also this statement, “…no one is absolutely wrong or absolutely right (about circumcision).” raises this issue, why not wait?

So to all soon-to-be parents out there, please ask yourself this question, "Why not allow children to grow up to adulthood and decide for themselves what they want to do with their own bodies?

Began by constructing your answer like this:

In regards to circumcision, children should NOT BE allowed to grow up to adulthood and decide for themselves what they want to do to their own bodies because…


In regards to circumcision, children should BE allowed to grow up to adulthood and decide for themselves what they want to do to their own bodies because…

I’m out of here.

Over and out,