IRAQ: UN raises the alarm and demands action against home violence against women

New York, Baghdad, U.S. – The United Nations has called on the Iraqi Government to comply with international laws and stop home violence against women. This unsolicited call comes after a Christian organisation drew attention to the increased violence against women in their homes now that people have to stay inside because of the Coronavirus. One of the Coronavirus measures is a curfew in Iraq which has been in place for two months now. The Coronavirus has so far claimed 83 lives in the country and 1.602 people have been infected. During this time that people have been trapped in their homes and it has become clear that home violence has increased a lot.

Christian NGO International Christian Concern followed the case for some time and reported on the increased home violence in Iraq. International Christian Concern promotes the protection of Christians, stresses that this violence mainly occurs among Muslim families who follow highly outdated customs. And also the UN has begun to put pressure on the Iraqi Government to take this problem seriously and to comply with universal laws on this issue. The United Nations wants the Iraqi government to have laws in place to stop domestic violence i.e. that the violence that men are practicing against their wives should not be legalized. Below the U.N. press statement issued by four U.N. organizations:

********** PRESS STATEMENT **********

Baghdad, Iraq; 16 April 2020 – The UN in Iraq urges the Iraqi Parliament to speed up the endorsement of the Anti-Domestic Violence Law amid alarming reports of a rise in gender-based and domestic violence cases perpetrated across the country, especially with increased household tensions as a result of the confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) offices in Iraq express their concern at the rising number in domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last week, multiple reports emerged of the rape of a woman with special needs, spousal abuse, immolation and self-immolation as well as self-inflicted injuries due to spousal abuse, sexual harassment of minors, and suicide due to domestic abuse among other crimes. Such crimes raise the alarm for the urgency to endorse the Anti-Domestic Violence Law in Iraq.

The UN in Iraq calls upon authorities to ensure that the judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers, invest more in hotline and online services, support the role of civil society organisations, keep shelter doors open for women fleeing abuse and punish perpetrators of any gender-based violence.

As United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres said, “Many women under lockdown for COVID-19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes. Today I appeal for peace in homes around the world. I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.”

We reiterate the Secretary General’s call and ask the authorities in Iraq to prioritise the protection of women and children as part of their COVID-19 response.

The adoption of a law on Domestic Violence will help to ensure that perpetrators of gender-based violence in Iraq, such as those who carried out the heinous incidents seen in recent past, are held accountable.

Violence against women and girls is a crime and should not go unpunished. The women and girls of Iraq deserve better.

UNICEF Representative in Iraq, Hamida Ramadhani Lasseko

UNFPA Representative in Iraq, Dr Oluremi Sogunro

OHCHR Representative in Iraq, Danielle Bell

UN Women Representative in Iraq, Dina Zorba