In the home of a village elder in northern Iraq, Kurdistan Rasul is quickly making her presence felt. Moments earlier, Said Abdulwahid had welcomed Mrs Rasul into his living room, from where she was scheduled to talk to the women of Gomasheen village about the hazards of female circumcision, a tradition she has been fighting for years.
But after after driving for hours from the Kurdish capital of Erbil, Mrs Rasul arrived at the village at the foot of the Zagros mountains to find that only four women turned up to hear her talk. But she intends to reach a wider audience. Careful to show respect, she launches into a rapid-fire chatter with fifty year-old Mr Abdulwahid, quick with smiles and jokes, gesturing energetically as she asks him to gather a greater crowd. She also harangues the women to call their friends to join.
Gomasheen is just one small battleground in Mrs Rasul’s greater war against female genital mutilation in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Whereas the practice is almost non-existent elsewhere in the country, many women in Kurdistan are still subjected to the custom. That young girls are now less likely to be circumcised than their mothers is due in no small part to activists like Mrs Rasul, who is tireless in driving home her message.
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