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 Cases of violence against women in Iraqi Kurdistan increasing

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Cases of violence against women in Iraqi Kurdistan increasing  2.7.2012 

The Second National Conference of Kurdish Women in Erbil, May 2012. Photo Rudaw. See Related Links
July 2, 2012

ERBIL-Hewlęr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — In the last four months, 532 cases of violence against women have been reported in Kurdistan.

Government statistics from the period reveal that there have been 26 murders or suicides, 150 self-immolation incidents, 308 discrimination complaints and 48 cases of rape.

Across all three Kurdish provinces, 876 women complained of violations. Women’s rights activists say that violence against women has increased over the last decade.

As of this year, the Kurdistan General Directory for Violence Against Women has been publishing their reports on a monthly instead of annual basis.

Kurdo Omar, the director of the center, said that the main aim of publishing monthly statistics is to help NGOs and universities with their research.

“We want to tell people that we won’t hide the figures,” Omar said.

He added, “Those who face a lot of violence tend not to make official complaints. The number of violations is much higher. There are women who are attacked but don’t come forward.”

Sozan Arif, the head of a women’s empowerment group, believes the worsening situation for women in the Kurdistan Region is the fault of NGOs.

“Our mechanisms are not right for those problems because we don’t work with a plan. All the work is just for decoration. We have to solve the problem from the roots. We should do research on those figures,” said Arif.

An earlier study by the Kurdistan Institute for Political Research revealed that 60 percent of women in Kurdistan face violence. Twenty-three percent of them are government employees, and 23 percent are divorced.

According to the research, social problems are the main cause behind the violence.

The study also reported that 44 percent of women believe the Kurdistan Regional Government hasn’t done much to solve the problem.

Hawre Abdulla, a graduate from the sociology department at Salahaddin University, feels that Kurdistan’s policies toward eradicating violence against women are not on built on the right foundation.

“The requirements for working at an organization are not based on skill or expertise; they’re based on party affiliations. That’s why we don’t see a lot of positive results. These problems have being going on for the last decade and they haven’t done anything to decrease them,” Abdulla said, also noting that the media could play a big role in changing the situation.

But Arif thinks that, as long as some traditions such as arranged marriage and marrying young remain part of Kurdish society, the problems will not go away.

However, Omar believes that encouraging women to come forward and telling authorities of violations has had a positive impact.

“Filing complaints has decreased suicide cases and most women have solved the problem through legal means,” she noted.

By Soran Bahadin

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