Female genital mutilation in Dagestan

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HRWF (13.09.2022) – On 30 August 2022, a number of courageous Russian civil organizations published an 88-page report about the situation of human rights in rights for the OSCE Moscow Mechanism. Concerning FGM, they highlighted reports published by two researchers:

  • Yulia Antonova is a lawyer cooperating with the Legal Initiative Project
  • Saida Sirazhudinova – Candidate of Political Sciences, President of the Center for Research of Global Issues of Modernity and Regional Problems “Caucasus. Peace. Development.”

Report in 2016: The practice of genital mutilation on girls/ Report on qualitative research in the Republic of Dagestan

In 2016, the Legal Initiative project published a study on the practice of female genital mutilation in Russia, based on field studies conducted in nine high-altitude areas of Dagestan, where circumcision is mainly carried out for girls under the age of three at home using conventional household tools such as knives or scissors. The report, which is only accessible in Russian, also states that the purpose of this procedure was to monitor female sexuality and behavior.

Second report in 2018: The practice of female genital mutilation in Dagestan

In 2018, a second study by the same researchers was published, which indicated that the minimum number of female genital mutilation in Dagestan is estimated   at minimum 1,240 girls per year.” It is accessible in Russian and in English (with the automatic translation)

The purpose of their report was quite practical – to draw attention to the problem of female genital mutilation and joint actions of interested persons and organizations to contribute to its elimination as much as possible.

In their presentation, they were saying:

“Female genital mutilation is a problem in some parts of Dagestan that has long been without any attention from the official authorities, the human rights community, public discussion and condemnation. Press publications that have appeared in the past year have demonstrated the secrecy of this tradition, and the reaction to it has shown that the public assesses the legitimacy of female genital mutilation extremely ambiguously. Opinions were divided from deeply unacceptive to condescendingly justifying or even justifying its necessity. In Dagestan, most of society is still not ready to recognize the existence of this problem, and the lack of any reliable and evidence-based information on the prevalence and forms of maiming operations requires closer attention and comprehensive study.

To achieve this goal, we have set the following objectives: to study the perception of the practice of mutilation by different groups of respondents, to study the prevalence of this practice, to determine the origins and justification for female mutilation, to show the consequences of female circumcision in Dagestan.”

Third report in 2018: Mutilation practices in the North Caucasus republics: Strategies for overcoming them

The main purpose of this report, only accessible in Russian, was to draw the attention of officials and individuals to the problem of maiming operations in the region, to help eradicate practices and protect girls from the risk of becoming a victim of harmful practices in the future.

Objectives of this report:

– to conduct a qualitative study in the republics of the North Caucasus, to study men’s awareness of FGM, their attitude to practice, men’s willingness to support FGM, the impact of operations on the quality of relations (sex) with wives, men’s right to vote in decision-making on the commission of FGM over daughters and many other points;

– to analyze effective strategies taken by different countries over the past 30-40 years to eradicate and reduce the practice of FGM;

– to evaluate the results of the first report, which was published in 2016 and caused public discussion and polarization of public opinions in Russia.

– to provide an overview of the changes that took place from 2016 to 2018 in international law to combat FGM practices in the world.

After this report, the authors concluded:

“Since the publication of the first report, no steps have been taken to intervene, assess and change the situation of FGM in Dagestan.

Girls continue to perform operations for non-medical purposes and outside medical institutions to remove all or partially the clitoris or damage it by means of an incision or notch with a knife, scissors, blades, needles or other available tools in unsanitary artisanal conditions.

This practice continues to be reproduced in conditions of tacit consent, as well as in systematic disregard by official structures of the need to take any measures against this practice and for the protection of the integrity and the right of girls not to be exposed to violence by close relatives.”

Credit: Stichting Justice Initiative