KRG launches campaign to tackle violence against women
PM Barzani criticizes KRG institutions, women’s NGOs and religious leaders for not working together to fight gender-based violence against women in Kurdistan
As violence against women increases, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani launched a 16-day campaign to combat violence against women on November 25, 2013 at a conference organized in the capital, Erbil.
Numerous women activists, representatives of different public institutions and international figures attended the conference.
According to the official figures published by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), around 445 cases of violence (including suicide, murder, rape and sexual harassment) were recorded in the first eight months of this year.
During that period, there were 13 cases of rape, mostly in the province of Sulaimani, the second largest province in the federal Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
To mark the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women, PM Barzani said that the use of violence against women stems from a lack of security and within families.
It is not just a “women’s issue”, the premier stressed; it is a problem facing “society at large”.
He called on the public services and relevant domestic and international NGOs to work much more effectively together to protect women’s rights.
He declared that there have been some achievements due to amended laws and dedicated institutions in Kurdistan.
The KRG has thus far ratified several laws in order to decrease the rate of gender-based violence against women, but the rate has increased dramatically compared to previous years.
In the first eight months of 2012, around 170 cases of violence against women were recorded by KRG departments, which is 275 fewer cases than this year.
During his speech, Barzani criticized civil society for being unable to transcend their political differences.
“There is a lack of collaboration amongst KRG institutions and women’s NGOs, a lack of professionalism and expertise in combating gender-based violence, and the absence of a mechanism to implement the necessary measures,” Barzani said at the conference.
He also criticized the role of religious figures in propagating anti-women and anti-KRG measures, adding that the measures are neither “in line with Islam nor with the instructions of the KRG”.
To decrease the rate of gender-based violence against women, the Kurdistan Parliament passed a law on domestic violence. The second article of this law reads thus: “It is prohibited for any person within a family to commit violence, whether sexual, physical or psychological, against other members of the family”.
Addressing the attendees at the conference, Barzani declared that violence against women has decreased in some areas, but has unfortunately in- creased in others. He stated that he had commissioned an investigation into the factors behind this increase.
He warned the courts against failing to implement the ratified laws and working with Ba’athist legislation instead.
Regarding political interference in such cases, PM Barzani strongly criticized the political parties, calling such actions “contrary to the law legislation” and “against the principles of the KRG”.
Following a worrying surge in murder, suicide and self-immolation among women in 2007, the KRG’s Ministry of the Interior established several departments to address issues relating to gender-based violence against women. The current number of KRG departments working on the issue in Kurdistan is estimated to be around 26.
Prime Minister Barzani speaks at launch of campaign to combat violence against women on November 25, 013 in Erbil, capital of the federal Kurdistan Region of Iraq.