Several reports are doing the rounds suggesting that around 4 million women living in Iraq under the rule of the militant outfit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will have to undergo genital mutilation, a painful circumcision, after a 'fatwa' was allegedly issued for the same.
As per an AFP report, the Jihadists, who have declared an Islamic State in occupied areas of Iraq and Syria, have ordered that all women between the ages of 11 and 46 will have to undergo female genital mutilation.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) or female circumcision is a practice followed by orthodox religious groups who believe that it prevents 'immorality'.
UN's deputy humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock, is said to have briefed reports about the ISIS order. "It is a fatwa (or religious edict) from ISIS, we learnt about it this morning. We have no precise numbers," she said in Geneva, AFP reported. She explained that going by estimates of the United nations, 4 million girls and women would be directly affected by the rule.
A Kurdish website, basnews had put up a report on 23 July that stated, "The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) group is asking all families in Mosul to circumcise their daughters or face severe punishment."
The website also quoted the spokesman of Mosul Police Ahmed Obaydi saying, "(Abu Bakr Al) Baghdadi's decision to have all women circumcised is, as he claims, to prevent immorality and promote Islamic attitudes among Muslims. The decision was made by Baghdadi as a 'gift' for people in Mosul". Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the self-proclaimed leader of the Islamic Caliphate.
However, a report by The Guardian stated that the jihadists had denied issuing any such fatwa.
The news report said that while supporters of ISIS had 'dismissed the story as propaganda', several residents and officials in Mosul said it was true.
There are also reports that suggest the 'fatwa' was only a hoax that began circulating on Wednesday.
"It would certainly be a very big coincidence if the UN source was separate but happened to arise at the same time as this fake statement online," Charles Lister, visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center and expert on Iraqi and Syrian extremist groups told AFP.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) announced a Caliphate in the regions that it ran over in Iraq and Syria over the last two months.