August 3, 2021 | healthcare

Plastic surgery fatwa draws mixed reaction in Kurdistan Region

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A recent fatwa forbidding “unnecessary” plastic surgery has drawn mixed reaction among doctors, therapists and members of the public in the Kurdistan Region, where 300,000 procedures are said to be done every year.

A July 27 fatwa issued by the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union forbidding “unnecessary cosmetic surgery” as “a great sin” became a topic of discussion on Kurdish social media recently, drawing mixed reactions.

According to the ruling, “unnecessary surgery” includes reducing the size of one’s nose, ears and mouth, lifting lips, skin, cheeks or removing wrinkles, saying changing them is “a manipulation of God’s creation.”

However, surgery is allowed to “correct a crooked or broken nose, correct teeth or fix burns, remove extra fingers” or any other “necessary” surgery with which “a body part can be returned to its original form.”

The fatwa was criticised as unnecessary by some people on social media, saying there are more important matters that need to be decided upon, while many people supported the decision.

A representative from the Kurdistan Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery has said around 300,000 beauty procedures are done annually in the Kurdistan Region.

Neither the organisation nor its 128 members were consulted about the fatwa, Ismael Faqe complained to Rudaw on Sunday, saying the ruling could have pointed out a number of unspecialized providers fuelling “deceit and distortion in the cosmetic surgery market.”

“Around 70 percent of those who perform cosmetic surgeries are female, and among the women nose surgery is on top of the list,” association head Shakhawan Saib told Rudaw on Monday, saying eyelid surgery, liposuction, face, brow and breast lifts are also popular.

Nose surgery is most common among men, he added.

“I don’t believe in cosmetic surgery at all, because if human beings are confident with themselves they don’t need surgery, and God has said that I have created human beings in the most beautiful way,” Sarezh Ibrahim, a member of the public, told Rudaw.

Shirin Jawhar, who has had botox and fillers, believes in cosmetic surgeries for “perseverance of beauty.”

“Cosmetic surgery is a means with which one can stay beautiful. I don’t consider it haram, there is nothing in against it in the Sharia that makes it haram,” a woman who preferred to stay anonymous told Rudaw, saying that she has done cosmetic surgery herself. “Those who are not comfortable in their own bodies should change it to the way they like it.”

According to a psychologist, excessive cosmetic surgery can be a sign of a mental disorder, usually depression or dysmorphophobia, a psychiatric illness marked by excessive self-criticism of physical appearance. When it’s not acknowledged, patients usually end up going under the knife.

“There are people who have had a nose job done 17 times by an ENT specialist, after that they’ve gone to a plastic surgeon, then to another one, then to a dermatologist,” psychotherapist Daniel Saadi told Rudaw on Sunday.

“We’ve seen that they have a mental disorder that makes them obsess over their bodies; they are dissatisfied with their body. Feeling inferior is different and is classed as depression,” he added.

“We need to differentiate between those who feel inferior and ugly because of depression, or have dysmorphophobia,” said Saadi, urging doctors not to perform surgery until they are sure the patient is in a good mental state.

Most doctors are consulting therapists before performing surgery, he added, but said “unnecessary plastic surgery has significantly increased.”

Hassan Pshdari, a member of the fatwa committee, said the fatwa was issued because they had received a lot of questions regarding the issue.

Houzan Mahmoud, a writer and a feminist, also rejected cosmetic surgery.

“There’s an ideal that women should always stay young and beautiful. They’ve made women responsible for always taking care of themselves and always be pretty and young, their skin, their body parts should be this way and that way - that’s why they resort to surgery and a lot of pain, and sometimes risk their lives. It could eventually lead to some mental problems.”

Mahmoud called the issue “problematic,” noting that the field is using “technology and scientific inventions to legitimize this, but it is actually a business.”

“Hundreds of thousands of advertisements tell women that ‘you are ugly’ … It makes the Kardashians the beauty ideal, they want their butts to be like the Kardashians, their nose like someone else.… They have constantly a mirror in front of them, that you need to make this beautiful, fix this, perform surgery on that … this is also an economic pressure on families,” she added.

“I am with scientific achievements until they become a market with which they deceive human beings.”


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