Published: 19 Dec 2018 | By Vanessa Kogan
The practice of female genital mutilation in Dagestan
Strategies for its elimination
In 2016, SJI published the first contemporary investigation into the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Russia. The report was based on a field study conducted in nine of Dagestan’s high mountain districts, in which circumcision is mostly performed on girls before the age of three, at home with the use of regular household implements such as knives or shears. The report provided an analysis of interviews conducted with 25 survivors and 17 religious, medical and legal experts, as well as legal analysis under national and international law. This year, on the basis of further research and interviews, SJI published “The practice of female genital mutilation in Dagestan: strategies for its elimination”, noting that in the two years since publication of the first report, little had been done to address this form of violence against women in the region. One of the motivations for pursuing study of the issue was to rebut claims by sceptics that the practice affects only a small number of women. Not only is this claim incorrect — we estimate that at least 1240 girls a year are affected by FGM in Dagestan — but we also reject the idea that the scale of the problem should somehow influence the obligation to eliminate a practice that has been recognised as a form of torture.