Iraqi Kurdish Activists: Women’s Abuse
Dashty (R) a Kurdish woman who was subjected to
female genital mutilation FGM at the age of 12.
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Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Nearly 4,000 cases of
violence were recorded in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2011
including 720 cases of systematic torture, the
government reported last week, but women’s activists
say the numbers are severely under-reported.
The government registered 3,766 cases in 2011.
Seventy-six women were killed or committed suicide,
while 330 had either been burned or self-immolated
-- a common method of suicide by women in the
In Sulaimaniyah, the region’s largest province with
an estimated 1.9 million residents, 1,673 cases were
registered, compared with 1,322 in Erbil and 771 in
Duhok. Erbil’s population is estimated around 1.3
million, while Duhok, the smallest province, has an
estimated 200,000 residents.
Kurdo Omar, director of the department that
researched the statistics, said the figures show a
drop in recorded cases of violence against women
compared with previous years but women’s activists
have said the cases are severely under-reported in
Houzan Mahmoud, UK representative of the
Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, told
Rudaw.net the figures are “very conservative” and
that the statistics can never show the reality of
women’s oppression in Kurdistan.
“There is a culture of tolerance of violence against
women in our society. Men easily kill women because
the laws which are supposed to protect women are not
functional.” she said,www.ekurd.net
adding that most women in Kurdistan do not report
the crimes due to lack of trust in the police forces
or to avoid stigma because in Kurdistan “tribal laws
are more powerful than civil laws.”
“They don’t report the crimes because they cannot
trust the police or they don't want to bring shame
on their man's so called honor. Sometimes the family
hide it in order to protect their ‘honour’ and avoid
stigmas,” she added.
After mounting numbers of minor complainants of
ill-treatment by their husbands and male family
members, the statistics show 2011 witnessed
systematic torture being used as the most frequent
physical abuse committed against women in the
In Sulaimaniyah province, out of the total number of
women registered to have been abused, 720 of them
had been subjected to systematic torture, the
department said. Self-immolation was also all too
“I had nothing left in life that is why I burned
myself. My only hope was my children who would wake
up in middle of the night because I screamed when my
husband beat me,” said a Kurdish woman who last year
set herself a blaze to protest her husband’s abusive
attitude, before being flown to the English city of
Leeds from Kurdistan for medical treatment.
She talked to Rudaw on the condition of anonymity
and said if her next door neighbors had not come to
her aid, she would have “burned to death instantly.”
Her older brother flew her to England in December,
when she received medical care. She is now awaiting
cosmetic surgery to repair her burns.
Self-immolation is the most common method of suicide
used by Kurdish women and often is a way out of
abusive situations. Therefore, in Kurdistan it is
classified as violence committed against women.
“I thought I would either die doing this to myself
or I would survive half-burnt to see him stop
beating me in front of my children,” the
self-immolation survivor in England said.
By Rozh Ahmed
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