A UN official in Iraq shared disturbing news with reporters today: ISIS militants have issued a religious edict declaring that all women in or around Mosul must undergo female genital mutilation, reports Reuters. The fatwa from the Sunni insurgents, who overtook the northern Iraqi city in June, applies to females between the ages of 11 and 46 and could potentially affect 4 million women and girls in the area, according to the BBC. But, as Reuters points out, some are skeptical of the report, and the UN says it is still investigating.
FGM procedures “intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons,” offering zero health benefits and potentially causing hemorrhaging, urinary issues, and infertility, says the World Health Organization. As the UN spokeswoman notes, the city of Mosul isn’t accustomed to the brutal practice, which the UN General Assembly banned in member states in 2012. “This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists,” the UN rep told reporters via video from Irbil. (Read more female genital mutilation stories.)