Just Another Guy with Opinions

Sheelan’s Circumcision

Posted by shadmia on January 6, 2009

Maharoub Juwad Nawchas

Sheelan Anwar Omer, a shy 7-year-old Kurdish girl is a victim of religion and culture. She lives in Tuz Khurmatu an ethnically mixed Kurdish town about 100 miles north of Bagdad. 60%-95% of the women living in Kurdistan are also victims of the terrible practice called female circumcision which can be more accurately described as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). For more information on this ancient and controversial practice click here.

The following is an excerpt from an article written By Amit R. Paley of the Washington Post and describes the experiences of Sheelan Anwar Omer who, at 7 years old, had “The Procedure” done to her. Read the entire article here.

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 Maharoub Juwad Nawchas, a 40-year-old midwife with traditional Kurdish tattoos covering her chin, 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. They placed the girl on a tiny wooden stool the size of a brick. The midwife applied yellow antiseptic to her pelvic area and injected her with lignocaine, an anesthetic. “It’s all right, it’s all right,” Sheelan’s mother whispered, as the girl screamed so loudly her face turned red. She tried to bunch up her skirt over her pelvis and shield the area with her hand, but the women jerked her arms back. The midwife raised a stainless-steel razor blade in the air. “I do this in the name of Allah!” she intoned.

As the midwife sliced off part of Sheelan’s genitals, the girl let out a high-pitched wail heard throughout the neighborhood. She made a swift cut, and immediately moved the girl over a pile of ashes to control the bleeding. The entire ritual took less then 10 minutes. As she carried the sobbing child back home, Sheelan’s mother smiled with pride.

“This is the practice of the Kurdish people for as long as anyone can remember,” said the mother, Aisha Hameed. “We don’t know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it.”

See a slideshow of Sheelan’s circumcision – but be warned some images may be disturbing –  by clicking this link: Sheelan gets circumcised

Female Genital Mutilation is common in many parts of Africa and the Middle East but it is rare among Iraqi Arabs. However in northern Iraq, in Kurdistan, the ritual 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.” FGM is performed on women by women and men generally play no role in the ritual.

Kurdish women believe that FGM serves two purposes: It controls a woman’s sexual desires, and it makes her spiritually clean so that others can eat the meals she prepares.

“I would not eat food from the hands of someone who did not have the procedure,” said Hurmet Kitab, a housewife who said she was 91 years old.

Women’s Rights groups have been trying to dispel the myth that FGM is harmless and required by Islam. Health experts say the procedure can result in adverse medical consequences for women, including infections, chronic pain and increased risks during childbirth.

Many girls who undergo FGM are traumatized by the experience and some develop lifetime psychological problems. However attitudes are changing, even among some of the elderly:

Ghamjeen Shaker, a 13-year-old from the Kurdish capital of Irbil, said she is still traumatized from the day she was circumcised. She sits with her legs clenched together and her hands clasped tightly on her lap, as if protecting herself from another operation. Indeed, Shaker says she sometimes dreams that the midwife who circumcised her is coming back to perform the procedure again.

She was 5 when her mother sent her out to buy parsley and then locked her in the front yard of their home with six other girls. “I knew something bad was going to happen, but I didn’t know exactly where they were going to cut,” she recalled. “My family just kept saying, don’t worry, this is a social custom we have been doing forever.”

“They pinned me to the ground, and I just cried and cried,” said Shaker, who spoke barely above a whisper. “I was just so astonished. But now I realize that they want to prevent women from living their lives normally.”

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.”

Back home, Sheelan lay on the floor, unable to move or talk much. She clutched a bag filled with orange soda and candy and barely said anything except that she was in pain.

But she became more animated when asked whether it was worth it to have the operation so her friends and neighbors would be comfortable eating food she prepared. “I would do anything not to have this pain, even if meant they would not eat from my hands,” she rasped slowly.

“I just wish that I could be the way I was before the procedure,” she said.

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2 Responses to “Sheelan’s Circumcision”

  1. reena said

    I was circumcised when I was 2 years old.My mom told me that.It was the ‘type 1’ circumcision where only a little of my prepuce was cut.Now I am married and have a son. I often heard that female circumcision can make a woman suffer especially when having sex. However through my experience, I often reach orgasm and happy with my sex life. Maybe because I still have the remaining clitoris. I am also healthy and do not been infected by any sexual disease.In my opinion, not all circumcised woman will suffer in the future.

  2. bikerbernie said

    I do not understand the concern with just females anywhere when we are still doing this to males all over the world.

    What is the big deal 130 million females worldwide that have had FMG there are almost that many males in America that have suffered the same fate and 975 Million world wide?!?! Kinda puts FGM even further back than the back burner.

    Check this out.


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