Thea Tsulukiani. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–A government spokesperson says she had never imagined that female genital mutilation is being practiced in Georgia, and that the practice will be ended very soon.

Three villages in the eastern Kakheti region are maintaining the practice which is considered inhuman and subject to international efforts to end its continued use.

Villagers told a reporter for IWPR about their traditions, a story also carried by DFWatch, and the revelation sparked intense interest and debate in Georgia.

“We want to eliminate this practice from those two or three villages, very rapidly,” acting Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani said Tuesday.

She was offered by Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili to remain in her position in the new government that is in the process of being formed following the October 8 election, and as the rest of the ministers she continues in a caretaker role until a new cabinet has been approved by parliament.

Tsulukiani said that a new passage has been added to the Istanbul Convention on violence against women, by which FGM will become a criminal offense, but parliament will have to ratify the convention for it to have legal force.

“If the parliament supports it, there will be a separate article which will make so-called circumcision of girls a crime,” she said.

After the recent discovery, the Ministry of Internal Affairs began to study the situation, but no investigation has yet been launched.