Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News
The al-Qaeda-Inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has ordered all girls and women between the ages of 11 and 46 in and around Iraq's northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation, the United Nations said on Thursday.
“It is a fatwa (or religious edict) of ISIS, we learnt this this morning,” said Jacqueline Badcock, the number two U.N. official in Iraq.
The “fatwa” would potentially affect 4 million women and girls, Badcock told reporters in Geneva by videolink from Arbil.
“This is something very new for Iraq, particularly in this area, and is of grave concern and does need to be addressed,” she said, according to Reuters.
“This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists,” she added.
No one was immediately available for comment from Islamic State which has led an offensive through northern and western Iraq.
The world body has “zero contact” with ISIS, but works through tribal leaders in the affected areas, Badcock said. “I can't give you any more details until we have been on the ground to get information,” she said of the directive.
Doubts over the fatwaThe text of the purported “fatwa” being circulated on the internet, however, has raised questions of authenticity. It appeared dated July, 11, 2013 and referred to the group as the “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” Since the group declared an “Islamic Caliphate” last month, it rebranded itself as the “Islamic State.”
Besides, the document appeared to be stamped in the city of Aazaz, north of the Syrian province of Aleppo. ISIS has reportedly withdrawn from Aazaz under pressures by the Syrian Free Army several months ago.
FGM, the partial or total removal of external female genitalia, is a tradition practiced widely in many countries and often justified as a means of suppressing a woman's sexual desire to prevent “immoral” behavior.
Worldwide, more than 130 million girls and women have undergone FGM and more than 700 million women alive today were children when they were married.
The practice of FGM previously occurred only in isolated pockets of Iraq, mainly Kurdistan, according to Badcock.
Mosul city currently has some two million people, more than half of whom are women as there are many female-headed households in the area, she said. Several more million people live in surrounding areas, she added.
“There are reports of rapes of women, of forced marriages,” Badcock added.
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