First Hotline for FGM Victims in the Middle East
In July 2012, the first hotline for victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Middle East was launched in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRG) funded fully by the Clifford Chance Foundation. Operated by Wadi, the hotline links individuals with specially trained social workers who can provide general information on the practice and immediately connect callers with lawyers, doctors, or psychologists, if necessary.
The hotline’s social work staff is expert in the anti-FMG movement and understands the realities of FGM at the most local level. Staff provides social, psychological, medical, and sexual counsel to women affected by FGM, as well as collects information on new cases of FGM. The hotline also serves as a point of contact for the general public seeking more information on the subject. Also through this hotline NGOs and other institutions can request seminars and FGM awareness materials managed by WADI. Later when the project is established and working successfully, the number of staff may increase.
As part of its work, Wadi operates mobile teams that provide a wide range of social and educational services throughout the KRG. Through the teams’ grassroots efforts, they discovered that many women are now calling into question the so-called “tradition” of FGM and seeking more information.
A key challenge to accessing information is the high level of illiteracy in the KRG. Up to 46 percent of men in northern Iraq are illiterate. Among women, illiteracy is even more wide spread – especially in rural areas where girls are still denied an education. Many are deprived any source of credible information except through the mass media.
In recent years, however, technology has brought new means of communication to even the most remote villages. Many women now have mobile telephones, opening up access to individual counseling and networking over distances that was never before possible.
The hotline is one more important step toward eradicating FGM by providing direct access to information and legal, social, psychological, and medical counsel for victims of FGM, and serves a source of credible information for the general public. Awareness of FGM in the KRG has increased since 2007, when the Stop FGM Kurdistan campaign was launched. Today, seven villages have been declared “FGM Free Villages” as part of the campaign.
The KRG General Directorate of Follow-up on Violence against Women (DVW) is supporting and cooperating with the hotline. The hotline may be reached by dialing 333 on a local mobile telephone or via email at