Kurdistan kicks off campaign to end violence against women

ERBIL, Kurdistan (Rudaw) – A 16-day campaign to end violence against women in the Kurdistan region was launched Thursday in Erbil, at a conference attended by activists, international right groups, officials from the KRG and several visitors from the diplomatic community.

The conference entitled “from peace in the home to peace in the world: Make education safe for everyone,” was held on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and will last for 16 days.

It was launched by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) High Council for Women Affairs, with the support of KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and the presence of Qubad Talabani, the deputy prime minister.

The aim of the campaign is to reduce domestic violence against women and improve women’s rights in Kurdistan.

Pakhshan Zangana , High Council of Women Affairs’ Secretary General said the KRG and UN groups are planning to launch several activities during the 16 days, to combat gender based violence.

“The process of combating violence against women in Kurdistan is a daily based task and not an annual event,” she said.

She emphasized the challenges for the Kurdistan region at this critical time, such as the economic crisis, ISIS war and the influx of refugees. These had created many obstacles for education in Kurdistan.

“Despite all this education process is still continuous and the refugees students had not been forgotten,“ she said.

She stressed that after the liberation of some areas from ISIS, the KRG and women’s committee are facing challenges to help women who were affected by the conflict.

“Providing psychological treatment for the Yezidi women is our priority,” she said.

She added that despite the effortless work of the KRG and the Council of Women Affairs the statistics are not convincing, as there is a notable rate of child marriage, forced marriage, and sexual violence, especially at the camps.

“Violence is not our destiny, violence is not accepted and it needs to be stopped,” she added.

Prime Minister Barzani said that for it is for the eighth year that the KRG government is supporting the campaign to combat violence in the Kurdish community.

“We need to emphasize on the obstacles that prevented in eliminating gender violence from the roots,” he said.

Barzani noted that gender based violence has decreased but not at the desired level due to some factors.

“The terror and extremists ideology had always stand against the improvement of a nation,” he said.

“The attack of the Islamic State and its propaganda on Kurdistan region and having Peshmerga fighters on the frontlines made our task harder,” he said.

He praised Peshmerga forces who are the most powerful force to defeat ISIS and said “Peshmerga victory in Shingal is a success over ignorance and terrorism.”

Barzani said he is very disappointed when he hears the religious men in the mosque humiliate and offend women in the name of religion, adding they need to have a major role in raising awareness among the young generation and call on peace.

UNFPA representative Rmanathan Balakrishnan said that gender based violence is one of the significant features of war.

He said the girls who are disconnected from school are more likely subjected to sexual violence

“One of the main challenges of the humanitarian response was to provide girls to gain access to education in both war countries Iraq and Syria,” he said.

Angus McKee , Consul General of the United Kingdom, said that orange is the color of the 16 days of activism against gender based violence, adding that orange is a shocking color, but not as shocking as the statistics.

“All around the world 35 percent of women and girls have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence during their life. And more than 7,00,000,000 alive today are married as children, 250,000,000 of them are married before the age of 15,” he said.

He said the UK is aware that Kurdistan is hosting many refugees and displaced people, who are vulnerable to further sexual violence.

“Kurdistan had scored great progress in reducing gender based violence in Kurdistan, but as we all heard today that more needs to be done,” he added.

“The victims should not be shamed. Shame on us if we remain silent and if we remain inactive because we all should strive for supporting the survivors to introduce laws and then implement them to stand up for abusive behaviors and empower civil society and to take this agenda to the classroom, we need to end our silence and be orange,” he added.

The camping started on November 25 and will continue until December 10.