ARBIL, Iraq, June 16 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch is calling on the government of Iraqi Kurdistan to immediately ban the widespread practice of female genital mutilation.
The group issued a 73-page report Wednesday detailing 31 instances of female genital mutilation that took place in four villages in northern Iraq and in the town of Halabja.
The prevalence of female genital mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan is not fully known because the government does not collect information on the practice, Human Rights Watch says.
However, research conducted by local organizations indicates the practice is widespread and affects a significant number of girls and women.
Human Rights Watch says the previous regional government issued a decree that perpetrators should be arrested and punished but there is no evidence that it was ever enforced.
In addition to outlawing female genital mutilation, the group says the government needs to develop a long-term plan for its eradication.