(Aida Mirmaksumova.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s Public Defender confirms that female genital mutilation (FGM) is being practiced in the eastern Kakheti region, a practice locals call ‘baptizing’.

Georgians learned last week that FGM is being practiced in three villages in Kvareli municipality without the authorities knowing about it.

But the ombudsman said Saturday that his staff began investigating the situation in October. November 9, they did field studies in Kvareli, talking to locals, teachers, local government representatives, police and staff at the maternity hospital.

“Locals confirmed that there is such a practice, which is called ‘baptizing’. They said that during the practice, a small part of the clitoris is removed or pierced in home conditions,” the statement says.

The procedure is widespread in one of the three villages, while there are only a few families practicing it in the other two villages.

The ombudsman said locals are not aware about the possible risks and complications the procedure involves. They do not know the goal of the practice and mainly relate it to religious customs.

The ombudsman called on the government to take all measures to eliminate the recently discovered practice and handed over information it had collected to the Health Ministry, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The practice of female circumcision in Georgia’s Kakheti region was first revealed by Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) investigation and reported by DFWatch.