39.62 million

Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-49


2018 population growth rate


Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-19


Type practised

Due to the lack of recognition of female genital cutting (FGC) by both the state and society in Iraq, little information is available. From small studies only, it appears that the most frequently practised form of FGC in Iraq is Type I.

Source: UNICEF, based on MICS 2011


UNICEF reports the following breakdown by age. For a quarter of Iraqi women and girls, the age at which they underwent FGC is unknown.

0-4 years: 27%

5-9 years: 40%

10-14 years: 6%

15+ years: 26%

Unknown: 26%

Source: UNICEF, 2013 country profile


35% of FGC in Iraq is performed by traditional practitioners, 6.3% by medical professionals.

Source: UNICEF, based on MICS 2011

Legal status

Legal. There is no specific anti-FGC law in Iraq as the practice is not acknowledged.

In Iraqi Kurdistan FGC has been criminalised after the Kurdish government passed the Family Violence Law in August 2011.

National progress

  • 2010 – Fatwa issued by highest Muslim authority in Iraqi Kurdistan stating that Islam does not require FGC
  • 2011 – Family Violence Law passed in Iraqi Kurdistan
  • 2013 – Pana activists handed a draft FGC law to parliamentarians in Baghdad
  • 2014 – Jihadist group ISIS reported to have issued a fatwa stating that all women in their caliphate would need to be cut (although this is disputed)

Political instability, as well as the taboo surrounding the practice, has severely hindered efforts to end FGC in Iraq. The country has been a battleground for competing forces since US-led international forces ousted President Saddam Hussein in 2003. ISIS, the so-called Islamic State group, seized large parts of Iraq in 2014 and held them until being driven out by government forces in 2017.

Human Development Index ranking

120 in 2018 index, based on 2017 data.

Infant mortality rate

37.5 deaths per 1,000 live births (2017 estimate).

Source: CIA World Factbook

Maternal mortality rate

50 deaths per 100,000 live births (2015 estimate).

Source: CIA World Factbook

Trends in FGC prevalence

Little recent data available.

Prevalence breakdown

By region

FGC in Iraq is geographically weighted towards urban towns, with 64% of reports from the towns, compared to the 36% from the villages. UNICEF data also show that the majority of FGC occurs in the southern region of Qadisiya, and the central region of Salahaddin.

A study conducted in Kirkuk (Northern Iraq) in 2012 revealed 38% prevalence and gave evidence that FGC is not restricted to the Kurdish areas.

Source: WADI

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