In a letter to the Dagestan Prosecutor’s Office, Russian Justice Initiative said that the study was carried out using qualitative data collection methods. The respondents answered in free form questions from a pre-prepared questionnaire, on condition of complete anonymity, and their personal information was not processed. The study’s authors provided prosecutors with the texts of 42 anonymous interviews collected for the study Female Genital Mutilation of Girls in the Republic of Dagestan.
In its letter, Russian Justice Initiative noted that the practice of female genital mutilation in the North Caucasus had been written about in depth in the media and academic publications before the study was carried out.
From 2008 onwards, religious organisations declared the importance and benefits of female circumcision in their publications. Islamic spiritual and educational newspaper As-Salam, for example, wrote that, “It is desirable or sunna, to circumcise boys and girls on the eighth day after birth. After reaching the age of majority, it is compulsory or wajib”.
“Our position has not changed. We ask the Dagestan prosecutors to bring this matter to the children’s rights commissioner in the republic and start addressing this issue”, said Yulia Antonova, senior lawyer at Russian Justice Initiative and one of the study’s authors. “We proposed various measures in the study: Legislative measures to eliminate these customs and practices; collection and dissemination of the main information on these customs and practices; support at national and local level for women’s organisations working to eliminate female genital mutilation and other customs harmful for women’s health, undertake educational and publicity campaigns at the regional level, targeting the groups concerned, and also targeting religious leaders, midwives, people who carry out these harmful operations, local leaders, and providers of folk medical remedies. Of course, religious educational work and dialogue with religious leaders are also needed”.
On December 13, 2016, Russian Justice Initiative received via fax an official request from the Dagestan Prosecutor’s Office, stating that, in order to conduct an investigation, we “must provide information, complete with personal details, confirming the practice of these operations, on individuals involved in performing these operations, on the victims of these operations, on the individuals who surveyed the women and the experts, and information on the women and experts mentioned in the study”.
Russian Justice Initiative published the study on female genital mutilation in Dagestan, with open access, on August 15, 2016. The study is based on results obtained through an anonymous qualitative study on the practice of female genital mutilation of girls in the Republic of Dagestan.