Erbil and Baghdad, 25 November 2010 – UNAMI Press Release.
For the first time, Iraq, in partnership with the United Nations, is participating in the global 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women Campaign which runs from 25 November, globally observed as the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, through to 10 December, the International Day for Human Rights.
In Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, the campaign launch took place in the presence of Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Prime Minister, Dr. Barham Salih and the United Nations Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq and Resident Coordinator Ms. Christine McNab. Several ministers and senior government officials attended the ceremony including the Minister of Culture and Youth, Dr. Kawa Mahmoud, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Ms. Asos Najeeb. A number of representatives from the international community and Iraqi civil society also participated in the event.
Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Dr. Salih hailed the campaign a major step forward in addressing violence against woman: “I hope the Kurdistan Parliament will soon adopt the draft law on eliminating violence against women and ban Female Genital Mutilation”.
In her speech DSRSG McNab said: “Crimes against women occur every day in Iraq. Women have been shot, strangled, and beaten to death. In cities across Iraq, women are targeted for engaging in their professions, wearing clothes deemed inappropriate, or simply stepping out of their homes. Kidnappings, murder and rape are all too common in Iraq, and those responsible are rarely caught or brought to justice”.
Dr. Kholoud Sami, the Iraqi State Minister of Women’s Affairs said: “In addition to raising awareness on violence against women, this landmark campaign also marks the launch of a four-year National Strategy to Eliminate Violence against Women supported through the legislation of a Family Protection Law”.
While violence has taken a heavy toll on the entire Iraqi society, women and girls remain the forgotten and silent victims of the ongoing violence. One in five women in Iraq has suffered domestic physical violence. Some 14% of women who suffered physical violence were pregnant at the time and 33% have suffered emotional violence as a result of insults, threats and public humiliation.
Under the slogan UNiTE to End Violence Against Women in Iraq, Iraq’s first national campaign intends to promote increased awareness on gender-based violence among Iraqi citizens, and to highlight the role that can be played by Iraqi males, especially among decision-makers and community leaders, in view of ending this human rights violation. The 16-day campaign includes a series of seminars, workshops and conferences and information materials disseminated across the country through the Government and civil society.
At today’s event, PM Dr. Salih acknowledged the initiative of 10 Iraqi male citizens who have significantly contributed towards fighting violence against women in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. Each of these individuals received a trophy as a token of appreciation.
“The United Nations is proud to support the Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government and civil society leading this campaign to break the wall of silence surrounding all forms of violence against women and girls in Iraq”, concluded Ms. McNab.